Man suffers burns at barbecue restaurant

The t-shirt that Mr Paul Wang was wearing during dinner on Sunday night (18/5) at Zhong Hua Bao Ding bbq restaurant. He was burned by fire spurting out from a food warmer. -- PHOTO: MR PAUL WANG BAOSHUANG
The t-shirt that Mr Paul Wang was wearing during dinner on Sunday night (18/5) at Zhong Hua Bao Ding bbq restaurant. He was burned by fire spurting out from a food warmer. -- PHOTO: MR PAUL WANG BAOSHUANG
Mr Paul Wang's left hand, which is blistering from burns after he used it to try to put out the flaming gel fuel that landed on his head and neck while having dinner on Sunday night (18/5) at Zhong Hua Bao Ding bbq restaurant. -- PHOTO: MR PAUL
Mr Paul Wang's left hand, which is blistering from burns after he used it to try to put out the flaming gel fuel that landed on his head and neck while having dinner on Sunday night (18/5) at Zhong Hua Bao Ding bbq restaurant. -- PHOTO: MR PAUL WANG BAOSHUANG
Mr Paul Wang's burned neck and ear, and photo of the food warmer and fuel used at Zhong Hua Bao Ding restaurant. -- PHOTO: MR PAUL WANG BAOSHUANG
Mr Paul Wang's burned neck and ear, and photo of the food warmer and fuel used at Zhong Hua Bao Ding restaurant. -- PHOTO: MR PAUL WANG BAOSHUANG

Waitress squeezed gel fuel into an open flame, sparking 'explosion'

SINGAPORE - A man was burned when flammable gel ignited and landed on him at a barbecue restaurant in Chinatown on Sunday night.

This comes after a woman suffered burns from a small culinary torch during a Mother's Day lunch on May 11.

Mr Paul Wang Baoshuang, 37, a polytechnic lecturer, was having dinner with two friends at Zhong Hua Bao Ding in South Bridge Road on Sunday night.

When he requested help because the fire warming a dish was dying out, a waitress squeezed gel fuel into the open flame, he said.

"There was an explosion or flash fire, and parts of my face, ear, neck and right shoulder caught fire," he recounted.

He removed the flaming gel with his left hand and ran to the toilet, where he took off his shirt, which had burn holes.

He was not offered first aid by the staff, he said, and they called for a taxi instead of an ambulance, although the Singapore General Hospital (SGH) was nearby.

Restaurant owner Zhou Qing Yang, 42, said he had done this because he heard ambulances sometimes take 20 minutes to arrive and believed that taxis would arrive more quickly.

Mr Wang's friends then called for an ambulance. The Singapore Civil Defence Force said that its ambulance took a man who had minor burns on his face and hands to SGH.

There, he was treated for second-degree burns on his neck and first-degree burns on his face, ear and right shoulder.

He was given one week of hospitalisation leave and told to rest at home and try to protect his wounds from infection.

"The doctor said I was very lucky that I had reacted quickly and turned my head. If the flame had reached one centimetre higher, it would have damaged my eye," he said. "The way the restaurant handles this highly flammable material is very dangerous. The owner should train the waitresses to handle the material properly, otherwise all the people in the restaurant could be in danger."

This is the first such incident in the two-year-old restaurant, Mr Zhou said.

The staff are supposed to top up the burners after the fire has gone out completely. In this case, there might have been a small flame that the waitress had not seen, he said.

He said: "I held a meeting with my staff and told them to be very, very careful in future. The customer got hurt while eating at my restaurant, so we are willing to take responsibility and cover his expenses."

joseow@sph.com.sg