A can of cooking spray caught fire and exploded in the kitchen of Dirt yesterday, fire officials said, sending a rush of flames through the kitchen and into the dining area of the weeks-old health food counter in Ballston during the height of the lunch rush.
ARLnow reports that a “fireball” tore through the kitchen at around 12:15 p.m. yesterday, and one restaurant worker ran into the street screaming in pain. The Arlington County Fire Department told the outlet the man was taken to the burn center at Medstar Washington Hospital Center in D.C. and treated for serious but non-life-threatening injuries.
Three other people were treated for potential injuries. Two of them went to Virginia Hospital Center with minor burns.
Capt. Ben O’Bryant, the ACFD spokesman, pointed to the aerosol can as the cause of the fire that caused staff and customers to quickly evacuate the restaurant. An ARLnow editor who was ordering lunch at the time reported that he felt the heat of the fire from his spot at the counter.
#Update: 4100 blk Wilson Blvd Cause of incident appears to be aerosol can of cooking spray near stove top overheated & burst causing contents to create flash fire. ACFD reminds everyone to keep aerosol cans & combustible items away from stove tops & ovens to avoid #cookingfires. pic.twitter.com/85dIrAT0wE— Arlington Fire (@ArlingtonVaFD) May 7, 2019
On the same day as the fire in Northern Virginia, the Chicago Tribune reported that six different lawsuits were filed in Cook County (Illinois) Court alleging that Chicago-based Conagra, the parent company for Pam, was responsible for burns suffered by several people because of a defective can design. The lawsuits say that the vents at the bottom of the cans open more than they should, causing flammable fluid to leak out. The vents are in place to relieve pressure that would cause explosions.
Dirt opened at 4121 Wilson Boulevard in Mid-April, representing the first expansion outside of the Miami area for a counter-service brand that caters to a variety of food tribes with a lengthy menu full of specialties such as matcha protein pancakes, spaghetti squash alfredo, Impossible Burgers, vegan “mylkshakes,” and kombucha on tap. There are two popular locations of Dirt in South Florida.
- One Seriously Injured After Kitchen Flash Fire at Ballston Restaurant [ARLnow]
- Lawsuits allege some Pam cooking spray cans caused fires, severe burns [Chicago Tribune]
- Ballston’s Healthy Import From Miami Beefs Up Its Menu With D.C. Brands [EDC]
- Miami-based Dirt Will Try to Feed Every Single Food Tribe in Ballston [EDC]