NEWS

Woman burned when tabletop griddle catches fire

Staff reports

A MedFlight helicopter took a Burlington woman to Massachusetts General Hospital Friday night after receiving serious burns while eating at a teppanyaki table at Chef Orient Restaurant.

Kerrin Frank, 49, was eating dinner at the Route 9 restaurant with a dozen friends when a fire ball believed to be caused by a spilled mix of oil and alcohol erupted from the tabletop griddle onto her face and chest, witnesses told Framingham Police.

"The chef poured a pool of oil eight inches wide," said Police Lt. Paul Shastany. "It began to roll toward Mrs. Frank then it began to spatter like water, at which point a large flame came up and burned her."

Friends on either side of Frank used their hands to put out the flames, Shastany said. The friends suffered minor burns on their hands and arms, but did not seek medical attention.

Frank was released from Massachusetts General Hospital, according to a hospital spokesperson.

After Frank was burned, the chef fled and could not be located by police, who were called at 8:43 p.m., Shastany said.

"When the police officers spoke with the managers, who were very cooperative, they said they only knew (the chef) as Jimmy," Shastany said. "He had just started (Friday) and was working with some agency in (Boston's) Chinatown."

Police attempted unsuccessfully to contact the agency, Shastany said, but later Friday night Chef Orient contacted police.

"The cook was located downstairs (at the restaurant) in a room, and officers spoke with him through an interpreter," Shastany said. "He went to put alcohol in an onion tower (to make it smoke) and forgot to put the cap back on tightly."

Shastany said he did not think that charges would be pressed against the chef.

Frank received immediate medical help from two off-duty medical personnel before paramedics and police arrived, Shastany said, but police do not know the identity of the good Samaritans. The two, identified by witnesses only as a military medic and a nurse, calmed Frank and put cold compresses on her burns.

"They were universally applauded by people prior to the arrival of police," Shastany said. "When police arrived they had left. We would like to find out who these people are for what we consider are extraordinary performance in assisting this woman."

(Charlie Breitrose can be reached at 508-490-7461 or cbreitro@cnc.com)