[Picture: A man is seen rescuing his 3 year-old daughter after a gas explosion in Changhua County.]
Seven people were injured, including a 3 year-old girl, when leaking gas at a table in a hot pot restaurant erupted into flames in Changhua County this evening, Thursday, November 9.
Video monitors recorded the moment at around 6:00pm, when a staff member was attempting to change a gas bottle for the tabletop gas burner. The staff member looks nervous as he anxiously tries to stop gas escaping. Two customers sitting at the table realize they are in danger and quickly get up and move away from the table, while others at nearby tables also stand up and flee.
However, a family at an adjacent table can only inch away as they are trapped between the wall and the source of the gas leak, while the 16 year-old employee attempts to stop the impending disaster. Seconds later the gas bursts into a fireball.
The family of three were trapped against the wall as flames engulfed their dining booth. The father is seen in the video grabbing his 3 year-old daughter and leaping over the back of the seat. All three family members were injured, the 37 year-old father with 2nd degree burns to 30% of his body, his 3 year-old daughter with 2nd degree burns to 20%, and his 33 year-old wife with 2nd degree burns to 10% of her body.
According to media reports in Taiwan’s Chinese language press, there were more than 30 people in the restaurant at the time. Of the seven injured, most suffered 2nd and 3rd degree burns, while others suffered from smoke inhalation. The most seriously injured was the staff member who is said to have suffered burns to 20% of his body. The injuries were described as non-life threatening in this United Daily News report.
Four people, including the family of three and the staff member are in a stable condition in the intensive care unit of Changhua Christian Hospital.
Changhua County Fire Bureau dispatched 11 fire engines, 4 ambulances, and more than 30 personnel to the restaurant on Xihu Road in Xihu Township. When firefighters arrived, they found the premises on fire and broke windows to rescue people trapped inside.
Liberty Times Network reported witnesses saying that they heard the hissing sound of leaking gas and shouted “Hurry, get out.”
The same report quoted a Changhua County Fire Bureau spokesperson saying that preliminary investigations suggest that the employee did not follow standard operating procedures for changing a gas bottle, and did not shut off the valve of the gas bottle before removing the pipe. Further investigations are being carried out to confirm the cause of the blaze.