A worker suffered burn injuries in a suspected gas explosion in the kitchen of a Kailua-Kona, Hawaii Panda Express restaurant Nov. 5.
Hawaii Fire Department Battalion Chief John Whitman told West Hawaii Today that the injured worker was taken to Kona Community Hospital for treatment of her burn injuries. A second person was also injured in the explosion, but the nature and extent of the injuries is unclear.
The injured Panda Express worker told responders that she smelled gas after a rice cooker dropped on the floor in the kitchen area of the restaurant. When she bent down to pick the appliance up, it exploded, burning her hands and arms.
Another restaurant employee, Chris Casino, told West Hawaii Today that he grabbed a fire extinguisher and doused the flames. A second explosion occurred and he used the chemical flame suppressant ansul to extinguish the fire. After the second eruption, he turned off the gas main.
Chalsey Daog, a customer who was eating at the restaurant when the explosion occurred, assisted the injured worker. She told West Hawaii Today that “you could see she was burned everywhere.” Ms. Daog said the worker was “hit” by both explosions. She helped the worker by taking her to the bathroom to run cold water over her burn injuries.
The explosions occurred at the Panda Express in the Kona Commons shopping center. The restaurant and several other businesses in the shopping development were evacuated while firefighters and police responded to the accident.
The other businesses in Kona Commons returned to normal around noon after the gas company inspected the Panda Express restaurant and found no gas leaks, but the restaurant itself remained closed for the rest of the day.