May 26th, 2008 06:29 EST
Charmglow Grill still spits fire
By Joseph S. Enoch
Backyard cook-outs have become a Memorial Day tradition in the U.S. but it`s still a good idea to keep a fire extinguisher handy, especially if you`re using a propane grill, as Maynard Outlaw of Kill Devil Hills, N.C., will tell you.
Outlaw was using a Charmglow grill manufactured by Brinkmann and sold at The Home Depot. It`s similar to grills recalled in 2005 because they could spit flames and start fires. Outlaw`s grill did just that, and nearly set his deck ablaze. From the day he purchased the grill in June 2007, Outlaw thought something was wrong because it produced only a 3/4-inch flame on full heat and it took him 20 to 25 minutes to grill a steak at medium rare Â" compared to his old grill that would do it in eight minutes, he said.
So last week, Outlaw turned the grill on as high as possible and let the resulting feeble flame do its work on the steaks for him and his son. I went into the house to continue preparing dinner when I realized I left my iced tea on the porch, Â" Outlaw said. Not more than a minute had passed before he made this realization, he said.
Outlaw went to retrieve his iced tea and discovered his grill engulfed in flames. The heat was so intense he had trouble approaching the grill and by the time he did, he couldn`t turn it off because the knobs had melted away. His son drenched a rag in water and handed it to his father so he could turn off the gas at the source, the propane tank. With the quickly drying rag starting to catch fire in his hand, Outlaw shut off the flow of gas and instantly all the flames died " proving it was not a grease fire, he said.
The scorching heat charred the porch and even started to catch the carpet in the house on fire, Outlaw said. The only injuries were singed faces and arms and a blister on his son`s foot from stamping out the flames on the carpet. Thank God I didn`t go to the bathroom, Â" Outlaw said. I was maybe a minute from having my house blown up. Â"
Other incidents Other consumers have reported similar incidents to ConsumerAffairs.com.
Joseph of Southampton, Penn., said his Charmglow grill is rusted so badly that it is unsafe to use. "Flames shoot out of the front of the burners, making it unsafe to use. I received burns to my hands opening the grill after preheating it to cook dinner," he said..
Holly of Northbrook, Ill., said the burner on her two-year-old grill was "totally split and rusted through." A Charmglow representative told her the burner could be replaced under warranty but at last word she had not received a replacement.
Dana of Owasso, Okla., said she bought a Charmglow in 2006. "It looked like an inferno a couple a days ago when we tried to grill on it. ...What a joke and what a waste of $400!"
2005 recallThe incident is reminiscent of the recalls of Brinkmann and Charmglow grills in 2005. The recalled grills had defective gas regulators, a part that controls how much propane is released to the burner, according to a Consumer Product Safety Commission press release. The regulators could leak gas, making the grills a fire hazard.
Outlaw said he believes the regulator is to blame for his grill`s blaze.
What next?A Brinkmann representative, who would identify herself only as Lori, said she doubted it was the regulator because since the recall, all the defective regulators have been replaced. She said that because she is not an engineer, she could not speculate on what caused Outlaw`s fire. She refused to put ConsumerAffairs.com in contact with an engineer or anyone else at the company. Outlaw has contacted Brinkmann and they have requested he send them the regulator for inspection.
By law, companies are required to notify the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) when they become aware of potential hazards in their products. CPSC spokesman Scott Wolfson said consumers whose grills leak gas should file complaints with the CPSC`s hotline: (800) 638-2772.
"We don`t hesitate to expand a recall when substantiated information comes to our attention related to additional models of a product that could pose a substantial product hazard," Wolfson said. Outlaw said he does not want a replacement, just his money back.
He also said he intends to switch to charcoal.