Fire danger -- six deaths reported from robes that catch fire

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In the two months since a line of robes were recalled over flammability concerns, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has learned that six people have been burned to death wearing them.

The CPSC said five of the six victims were women -- three in their 80s -- and all were cooking when their robes caught fire.

The recalled full-length chenille robes are made by Blair LLC, of Warren, Pa. About 162,000 were sold. The robes were sold in Blair catalogs and from the company's Web site, as well as at Blair stores in Warren, Pa.; Grove City, Pa.; and Wilmington, Del., between January 2003 and March 2009. The robes sold for about $20 to $40.

Blair had initially recalled the robes in April after getting reports of three catching fire, including one incident in which the victim suffered second-degree burns, the CPSC said. Officials said the company had sent letters to all known owners of the robes alerting them to the danger.

The recalled robes have the following item numbers: 3093111, 3093112, 3093113, 3093114, 3093115, and 3093116. Consumers can locate the item number on a label in the garment's neckline.

Here is a description of the robe from the CPSC: It is a one-piece garment made of plush, sculpted chenille, a shaped stand collar, and horizontal chenille front and back yolks and cuffs. The robe has a full-button front with seven matching button closures, long sleeves with self cuffs, a straight bottom with self hem, and two sideseam pockets. The robe's sewn in label states: "100% Cotton, RN 81700, Made in Pakistan".

Blair has extensive information about the recall on its site.

Consumers are urged to stop wearing the robes and contact Blair to get either a refund or a $50 Blair gift card. Blair can be reached at 877-392-7095 or at blairproductrecall@blair.com. Blair's president and CEO issued a statement in support of the company, emphasizing its commitment to getting the robes back.

"Blair has a 99-year history as a retailer of safe, quality products. We care deeply about our customers,
and are distressed by this situation," Shelley Nandkeolyar said in a letter to customers. "We therefore are 100% focused on getting as many of the robes back as we can, as quickly as we can. We strongly encourage anyone still in possession of a recalled robe to call our consumer hotline at (877) 392-7095 and return it immediately. In addition to our outreach to get these robes out of the hands of consumers, we are redoubling our efforts to ensure the products we sell are safe."

Blair said it has taken or will be taking the following steps:

  • stopping all sales of chenille robes, even those that passed flammability test,
  • severing its relationship with the manufacturer,
  • sending letters to every known purchaser of the robe who didn't respond to an initial mailing,
  • calling 63,000 customers believed to still have the robes.

The CPSC said the deaths they learned about after the recall highlights the importance of informing the agency about incidents with products.

"CPSC urges all consumers to report any incidents or injuries involving consumer products, even after a recall has been announced," said acting CPSC Chairman Thomas Moore in a press release. "Contact the CPSC so that we may help prevent tragic deaths or injuries like those that might be related to the Blair robes."

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