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Woman severely burned by bananas Foster at Palm Harbor restaurant

PALM HARBOR — A family preparing to enjoy a dessert of bananas Foster was burned, one of them severely, when the flaming dish splashed on them Saturday night at a restaurant.

Two of them were rushed by helicopter to the hospital. The most badly wounded, a 25-year-old woman, suffered first- and second-degree burns when her dress caught fire.

Around 9 p.m., a server at the Ozona Blue Grilling Co., 125 Orange St. N, was preparing the dessert popularized in the 1950s. The server poured 151-proof rum over the dish and lit it.

Then something horrible happened. The flaming liquor spilled onto the customers.

"Obviously, it was a terrible accident," said Debbie Fragale, an Ozona Blue owner. "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."

Two women, a 25-year-old and 56-year-old, were taken to Tampa General Hospital by helicopter. The 56-year-old, who suffered what fire officials described as respiratory burns, was later discharged. The 25-year-old suffered severe first- and second-degree burns, according to Palm Harbor Fire Rescue spokeswoman Liz Monforti. When her dress caught fire, her body became covered in flames. "It's going to be a long time for her to heal," Monforti said. She remains hospitalized.

Two men, a 25-year-old and a 58-year-old, were burned on the knees. They refused treatment.

Fire officials did not disclose the customers' names, but said they were family members.

An off-duty firefighter who was in the restaurant provided first aid before paramedics arrived, Monforti said.

Bananas Foster is a dessert often made as a tableside performance. The preparation of the dish involves sautéing bananas in butter, then adding alcohol to the pan. The alcohol is then lit, creating a flame. The dish is often served over ice cream.

Times staff writer Demorris A. Lee contributed to this report. Danny Valentine can be reached at dvalentine@sptimes.com.

Woman severely burned by bananas Foster at Palm Harbor restaurant 06/12/11 [Last modified: Sunday, June 12, 2011 10:10pm]
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