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Seaport chef badly burned when can of cooking spray explodes

| Firehouse.com – An explosion triggered by a can of cooking spray severely burned the chief cook at a popular Massachusetts eatery Sunday.

Michael DeCoste, the primary cook at Zeke’s Place in Gloucester was transported to Beverly Hospital, then airlifted Sunday night to Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston. (The restaurant is popular with Wicked Tuna fisherman; image.)

The accident, at 3:45 p.m. Sunday, left DeCoste with third-degree burns over his arms, chest and legs, fire Capt. Barry Aptt said Monday.

A third-degree burn is referred to as a full thickness burn. It destroys the outer layer of skin (epidermis) and the entire layer beneath (the dermis).

Danielle Hopkins, DeCoste’s longtime life partner who owns Zeke’s and regularly works there, said DeCoste sustained burns over roughly 27 percent of his body, but that the burns were not internal and did not impact his lungs.

“His face is very swollen from the heat,” she said, but he did not sustain facial burns in the flash explosion.

The explosion occurred when the can of non-stick spray, which was close to the stove, apparently ruptured due to the heat and exploded, Aptt said. A flash of flame and fluid from the spray spewed all over DeCoste.

The explosion over the gas stove did not spark an actual fire, Appt said, adding there was no fire damage to the restaurant or to other parts of the building, which dates to 1900, according to city assessors’ records.

Zeke’s Place will be closed for much of this week as it must clear a series of inspections, including from the city’s Health Department and fire officials, before reopening.

The chef of a popular Gloucester eatery received third-degree burns over his arms, chest, and legs when the can, which was near the stove, exploded. Read more.

Washington State Department of Labor and Industry – Canned aerosol products, a common sight in home and commercial kitchens, can overheat, explode and cause fires when safe use and storage precautions aren’t followed.

The following descriptions of actual incidents show what can happen:

  • An aerosol can of cooking oil overheated and exploded, injuring a kitchen worker who was hospitalized for several days due to serious burns. The can, labeled “Caution: Flammable Spray,” had been stored on a metal shelf about 21 inches above a hot griddle.
  • A line cook was hospitalized two days due to serious burns after an aerosol can of cooking oil stored inside the rim of a range exhaust hood fell and ruptured as it struck a burner. The can’s contents were released and ignited by a burner’s pilot light.
  • An aerosol can of cooking oil left on a rolling table next to an operating gas range overheated and ruptured, releasing flammable contents that ignited and created a fireball that burned two kitchen workers.

To keep safe:

  • Don’t store cans near kitchen ranges or other heat sources. Apply cooking spray to pans or food at a safe distance away from heat and sources of ignition. Check the workplace periodically to ensure aerosol products are being stored and used safely. Read more. 


CONSUMER ALERT: Multiple reports have been released of cooking sprays cans, such as PAM cooking spray cans, exploding when left near stoves leaving victims with horrific injuries to exposed areas including their face, neck, and hands.

Exploding Cooking Spray Fires: A Well Documented History

Exploding cooking spray cans is not a new phenomenon, but has a well-documented history.

  • In Ohio, an exploding cooking spray can nearly killed a woman as she suffered through horrific burns through her face, arms and chest.
  • A Pennsylvania woman suffered severe burns to her hands and face after a cooking spray can exploded after accidentally falling into a pan while she was cooking, spewing hot grease the moment the explosion occurred.
  • A woman from New Jersey suffered 2nd and 3rd-degree burns to her face after she left a can of cooking spray near one of the burners.
  • In Colorado, two cooks at a local steakhouse were hospitalized after a can of cooking spray exploded after being left near a stove.
  • In Connecticut, a flash fire from an exploding cooking spray can left another victim with 3rd-degree burns to their face, chest, and arms.

All across the country, as we see this dangerous trend continue, these cooking spray fire incidents are leaving many with one particular question:

Why Do Cooking Spray Fires Keep Occurring? An Investigation

Each of the cooking spray cans examined by Chemaxx had vents at the bottom of the cans, intended to release pressure and prevent the can from exploding, however, upon further examination of the cans, the design is seemingly having an unintended effect.

Their testing results showed that the cooking spray cans were releasing pressure at temperatures and pressures which were considerably below those expected to cause venting of the aerosol containers. Read more.


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