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Flaming Dessert at Restaurant Turns into Fiery Nightmare that Burns Four Customers

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June 12, 2011

Dinner at a Florida restaurant went horribly wrong for one family Saturday night when a flaming dessert prepared by the waiter unexpectedly splashed over customers.

The incident occurred at the Ozona Blue Grilling Co. in Palm Harbor, FL.

Fire officials told The Suncoast News that the waiter was preparing a flambé dessert called Bananas Foster.

Invented in 1951, the making of Bananas Foster involves sautéing bananas in a sweet mixture then adding dark rum. The cook then ignites the rum in the dessert, burning off the alcohol before serving it with ice cream. It was at this point in the tableside preparation when the Ozona Blue waiter added 151-proof rum, set the dessert on fire and a fiery liquid splashed out of the pan onto four family members dining at the restaurant.

A 25-year-old woman suffered first and second degree burns when her dress caught on fire and flames engulfed her body. An off-duty firefighter rushed to her aid, cutting her clothes off so arriving emergency personnel could treat her burns quickly.

Another woman, 56, suffered respiratory burns.

Emergency responders airlifted both women to Tampa General Hospital. The hospital later released the 56-year old woman, but fire officials expect the younger woman to undergo an extensive recovery.

Two men, one 25 and another 58, who were dining with the women suffered burns on their legs.

Another employee put the fire out with an extinguisher.

“Obviously, it was a terrible accident,” Ozona Blue manager Debbie Fragale told the St. Petersburg Times. “But my main concern is for the well being of that young lady and everyone who was hurt, and our thoughts and prayers are with everyone who was involved. It was just very unfortunate.”