After an investigation by Consumer Reports' safety experts, the federal government announced a recall of 663,000 gas grills whose burners can deteriorate, causing irregular flames and lid fires.
The affected models are SLG series Perfect Flame-brand grills, sold exclusively at Lowe's retail stores nationwide.
After readers started telling us about problems with Perfect Flame grills in 2007, we analyzed their complaints and notified the Consumer Product Safety Commission, requesting a formal inquiry and recall. We sent the CPSC dozens of complaints we'd received, most citing uncontrolled fires, melting, and poor burner quality for the SLG model grills.
Helping out in the effort was John Heathcote, from Columbus, Ind., who drove to our headquarters in Yonkers, N.Y., with his damaged grill so we could assess the problem close-up. Because we test only new products, our normal testing hadn't picked up on problems that Heathcote and other Perfect Flame owners were having after using their grills for a while. His grill was one of two that were donated for our tests; he put his grill in his car and drove more than 700 miles to Yonkers. (We gave him a replacement grill and gasoline money.) Heathcote said, "You have no idea how much I appreciate getting a replacement grill and how good it makes me feel knowing that I may help resolve an issue with a dangerous product."
By the beginning of August 2009, we had received 77 complaints of fires, resulting in 11 injuries, including burns.
Finally, 14 months after we first brought Perfect Flame's imperfect flames to the CPSC's attention, the grill was recalled. "CPSC commends Consumers Union and Consumer Reports for the in-depth laboratory testing and research done in regard to this product," said the agency's spokesman, Scott Wolfson. "Now that the recall is out, it's time for consumers with these dangerous grills to respond immediately to the recall to avoid any more fires or injuries."
The grills are made by Lucas Innovation of China and imported by a Lowe's company, LG Sourcing of North Wilkesboro, N.C. The CPSC said that it had received reports involving about 40 fires from burners deteriorating, and about 23 lids catching fire. The grills were sold from September 2005 through May 2009 for $200 to $550.
The CPSC said that consumers should stop using the grill and contact LG Sourcing for free replacement burners as well as a lid in certain cases. Consumers can go to www.lowes.com or call 888-840-9590 for further details.
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