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Bananas Foster Fire: 4 Injured by Flaming Dessert

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By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. on June 14, 2011 1:16 PM

Flaming desserts and injury are something that seem like they would go hand-in-hand. And, a recent Bananas Foster fire that left four unlucky restaurant diners burned seems to underscore the danger of fiery foods.

The unfortunate accident took place at the Ozona Blue, a restaurant in Palm Harbor, Florida. Katie Hudgins, her fiancé and her fiancé's family, were sitting down to a nice meal and had ordered two servings of Bananas Foster.

Bananas Foster is a popular dessert fish consisting of bananas and a mixture of butter, cinnamon, and other ingredients. The dessert is also considered a tableside spectacle, as rum is poured into the dish and set on fire for patrons.

After Hudgins' family ordered the dessert, a server came over and poured 151-proof liquor and poured it into the dish. However, a sudden burst of fire came out and ignited Hudgins' dress, reports the St. Petersburg Times.

Luckily, Nick Salzer, a chef at the restaurant an aspiring firefighter and EMT, raced to action when he saw the flames. He managed to get Hudgins' enflamed dress off, and took her to a couch where he covered her with a blanket and called 911, according to the St. Petersburg Times.

Hudgins was treated for third-degree burns at a local hospital, reports the St. Petersburg Times.

Legally speaking, the restaurant may face some liability. Other restaurant owners have said that 151-proof alcohol, used in the Ozona Blue Bananas Foster dish, was maybe a bit too strong. Other restaurants use 80-proof brandy.

There may be a case against the restaurant for negligence since it is arguable that they may have failed to exercise reasonable care in the preparation of the flaming dish by using the strong alcohol and by preparing it out in the open in front of guests. Plus, restaurant owners generally owe their patrons a duty to keep them safe, which they may have violated.

The Bananas Foster fire is not the first flaming dessert injury to make news. In fact, some desserts and flaming foods have actually caused death - including a 1996 incident where a waitress died in a Dublin wedding reception from fire from a flaming Baked Alaska.

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