(Updated at 2:15 p.m.) A man suffered serious burn injuries after a flash fire erupted in the kitchen of a popular Ballston restaurant during Tuesday’s lunchtime rush.
Three others were being treated for potential injuries after the flare-up at Dirt restaurant, which recently opened at 4121 Wilson Blvd.
The incident happened around 12:15 p.m. While the restaurant was bustling with a lunchtime crowd, the kitchen suddenly and unexpectedly was engulfed by a large fireball. Staff and customers ran out of the restaurant, which was quickly evacuated.
One worker who had been in the kitchen during the flare-up ran out, screaming in pain from burns. Passersby and an Arlington County Fire Department ambulance crew, apparently on their lunch break, quickly jumped into action and began comforting and treating the man as he writhed on the ground.
He was transported via ambulance to the burn center at Medstar hospital in D.C. with serious but non-life-threatening injuries, according to ACFD.
Firefighters extinguished the remaining flames in the kitchen and treated the injured, two of whom were being transported to Virginia Hospital Center with minor burns, according to scanner traffic. Occupational safety investigators were dispatched to the scene to investigate.
Later Tuesday afternoon ACFD spokesman Capt. Ben O’Bryant told ARLnow that the fire was caused by an aerosol can of cooking oil that ignited after being placed next to a stove.
Among those inside the restaurant at the time of the incident was an ARLnow editor, who was paying for an order at the front counter — which is adjacent to the kitchen — when the fireball erupted. While the editor felt the intense heat of the fire and had ash in his eye, he was otherwise uninjured.
Units were dispatched to 4100 blk of Wilson Blvd for report of multiple burn patients. 1 patient transported with serious but NLT burns. 2 patients transported with minor burns. 1 patient treated & released. Most units returning to service. Fire Marshal on scene investigating. pic.twitter.com/B8sLd6a64a
— Arlington Fire (@ArlingtonVaFD) May 7, 2019