The chef of a Rancho Bernardo restaurant was badly burned in a flash fire explosion, according to the San Diego Fire Department.
The incident happened around 11:15 a.m. Monday at Bernard’O Restaurant in the 12000 block of Rancho Bernardo Road.
According to fire officials, the chef was in the kitchen preparing for lunch service. When he tried to light the grill, he was hit with a flash of fire.
“All indications are leading to the fact that there was a gas leak where he was trying to light that,” said San Diego Fire Capt. Justus Norgord.
People inside neighboring businesses felt the explosion.
“We heard this huge booming sound. The walls were shaking,” said Lauren Smith, who works at Ogden’s Cleaners.
“We saw smoke. A security guard told us to get out, so we grabbed our stuff, got out, ran over next door, told them to get out,” she said.
People at the shopping center helped the injured chef until rescue crews arrived. The man was taken to the hospital with second-degree burns on his arms and first-degree burns on his face, Norgord said.
Fire officials said there wasn’t much fire damage, but the restaurant’s sprinkler system did cause water damage.
“Each sprinkler head flows about 30 gallons per minute. We had two heads fused, 60 gallons per minute,” Norgord said.
Despite the injured man and extensive water damage, Norgord said the situation could have been much worse.
“Usually, there’s a staff of about four to five in that kitchen, so luckily, there was only one individual because we could have had multiple patients,” he said.
The Poway Fire Department also responded.