An employee at a Hawaii Panda Express was taken to the hospital for burn injuries following a suspected gas explosion at the restaurant.
Several businesses in the Kona Commons shopping center were evacuated Monday because of the explosion, West Hawaii Today reported .
Police arrived at 11:38 a.m. Fire crews were already on scene.
An employee told responders she smelled gas after a rice cooker dropped on the floor in the restaurant’s kitchen area. When she bent down to pick it up, the explosion occurred, burning her hands and arms, Officer Travis Bumgardner said.
She was taken to Kona Community Hospital for treatment.
Employees and customers were waiting in the parking lot as they watched personnel from the Hawaii Fire and Hawaii Police departments respond to the scene.
Restaurant employee Chris Casino said there were two explosions, though he didn’t see the actual explosions occur. After the first explosion happened, he grabbed a fire extinguisher and put the flames out.
When the second explosion followed, Casino said, he pulled the ansul, which is a chemical used to suppress flames. After that, he said he turned off the main gas line.
Chalsey Daog said she was among eight customers at Panda Express at the time of the explosions. ‘The wall was shaking and the ground was shaking,” Daog said as she described the explosions.
Daog saw the employee who was injured.
“You could see she was burned everywhere,” Daog said. “It hit her twice.”
Daog called 911 and told the injured employee to come to her so she could assist her.
“For me, my adrenaline hit,” she said. “I yelled to hit the fire alarm, get the fire extinguisher and evacuate the building.”
Daog said she took the injured employee to the bathroom to wash her burns with cold water.
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