By DAVID BORAKS
Big Lots has recalled 30,000 glass tabletop torches after some erupted in flames and injured users, including a Davidson man who suffered 2nd and 3rd degree burns in an explosion and fire last month.
Bill Trull, 46, who lives on Northeast Drive in the Spinnaker Reach condos, off I-77 Exit 30, was badly burned on his legs after he attempted to blow out one of the citronella candles on his back porch July 8. The injuries were so serious that he missed a month's work as an administrative officer at the Mecklenburg County Sheriff's Office.
The Mecklenburg County Fire Marshal's office began an investigation, and determined that the candle was defective, assistant fire marshal John Heinen told DavidsonNews.net. Heinen began working with the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission, where an investigation led to Thursday's recall.
Trull's was one of two serious case that federal officials cited as they ordered a recall of the torches, which were made in India and sold nationally by Big Lots.
The recall covers two sizes – larger torches about 10 inches wide, 5 inches high, and weighing about 2½ pounds, and smaller ones about 5 inches wide and 5½ inches tall, weighing about 1 lb. They include a multi-colored glass fuel container with a metal and wire stand.
Trull and his wife Stephanie were getting ready for dinner around 8:30pm on July 8 when the explosion occurred. Stephanie Trull said the two joked about who was going to blow out the torch.
“He went out to blow it out and it was like a grenade. It literally exploded,” Stephanie Trull said, “to the point where it literally knocked the pictures off the wall in the house.”
[Bill Trull was unable to discuss the case while awaiting approval from his supervisors and a lawyer.]
Standing in a circle of flames, he began yelling for water. As his wife ran screaming for help, and yelling that their condo was on fire, a neighbor came to the rescue. “The neighbor threw Bill a fire extinguisher in the ring of fire, and he put the fire out and himself,” Stephanie Trull said.
Trull had second and third degree burns on his legs, minor burns on his face and elsewhere.
Federal officials said Big Lots had received 20 reports of liquid fuel erupting from the torches, creating high flames. Two of those hurt by the candles were seriously injured, including Bill Trull, while seven other people had minor burns.
All the fires also caused property damage, according to the commission.
Big Lots stores around the country sold the candles between March and June 2013 for between $8 and $20. Customers are warned to stop using the candles immediately and to bring them back to the store for a full refund.
Aug. 8, 2013, Consumer Product Safety Commission, “Big Lots Recalls TabletopTorches”