A week after the Ontario Fire Marshal’s Office issued a release on the danger of ethanol fire pots, a family has come forward to say their daughter, a Toronto doctor, died using one.
Doctor Michelle McLauchlin died on June 18, 2019 when the ethanol fire pot she was refueling erupted in a ball of flame leaving her with severe burns.
“Michelle was burned to 95% of her body. To see my child at Sunnybrook Hospital swathed in gauze and to stand there and have to accompany her on her journey of death is horrible,” McLauchlin’s mother, Noreen, told CTV News toronto at her home in Blenheim, Ont.
Video released from the Ontario Fire Marshal's Office shows what can go wrong when refueling an ethanol fire pot. There is a phenomenon called "flame jetting" when fuel vapors are ignited, creating a flame that shoots out like a blow torch.
Doctor Michelle McLauchlin died in June this year. (Supplied)
Rui Raposo was engaged to McLauchlin and said it was a Tuesday night and the two were planning to sit on the patio in the home's backyard. Raposo says he heard a loud “poof” and saw a large orange glow. When he went outside, he said he saw his fiancé.
“I came running out within seconds. I came towards her and she was coming through the patio door fully engulfed (in flames) into the kitchen.”
Raposa said McLauchlin was a beautiful soul, a caring doctor and talented musician. They were to be married next year.
“I think about that night and I still can't believe it and I look at my Michelle and I can’t believe it happened. It’s so surreal,” Raposo said.
McLauchlin’s fiancé and her parents are calling for a ban on table top fireplaces that use ethanol fuel until they can be made safer. They also question why it hasn't happened already. The Fire Marshal’s report found there have been multiple fatalities and injuries in Ontario over the past three years.
The fire caused damage to the backyard of McLauchlin's home. (CTV News Toronto)
In the summer of 2016, Doctor Judith Buys, a Peterborough dentist, died in an ethanol accident while visiting at a friend's cottage.
“If they would have done their due diligence my daughter wouldn't be dead today," McLauchlin's mother said.
Raposo added that "in their current state, the design of the lamp and the fuel is volatile and unstable."
Ethanol fire pots have already been banned in Australia.
The Fire Marshal's office said there are ways to try and protect yourself to prevent "flame jetting" when using ethanol appliances. They said to always make sure flames are completely out and that the appliance is cold to the touch before refueling.
Only refuel when no one is near the appliance and when refueling use a container with a flame arrestor.