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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

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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