Mum suffers 2nd degree burns after hair catches fire from dessert flame

Andrea was burned in Fullerton Bay Hotel (above).
PHOTO: Mum suffers 2nd degree burns after hair catches fire from dessert flame

What was supposed to be a quiet Mother's Day lunch turned dramatic when a mother was burnt by a culinary torch.

The woman suffered second-degree burns and had to be rushed to the Singapore General Hospital (SGH).

When The New Paper met her at the hospital last night, she looked distressed.

Angry red splotches covered the right side of her face. She also had a green dressing on her right arm.

The teacher, who wanted to be known only as Andrea, said she had planned a Mother's Day treat for herself and her mother who had flown in from Perth, Australia, last weekend.

Andrea, herself mother of a young girl, decided on the Clifford restaurant at the Fullerton Bay Hotel.

But things took a bizarre and painful turn yesterday afternoon.

Andrea, who has been working in Singapore for five years, was burnt by the flame used to caramelise creme brulee, a dessert.

TOO LATE

The Australian told The New Paper: "I was nearby while the chef used a torch on the creme brulee.

"Suddenly, the fire came towards me. I quickly turned, but it was too late."

Andrea's hair caught fire. Her right shoulder, ear and face were also burnt.

At SGH, hospital staff spent more than three hours tending to her.

TNP understands a lot of time was spent dressing her wounds and cutting away strands of hair that had been burnt into her face.

The tall woman looked tired as family members, including her mother and daughter, surrounded her.

"I'm feeling very cold right now," she said, then grimaced. "Just now, it was very hot."

A Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) spokesman said they got a call around 2pm. Officers took a woman who suffered second-degree burns to SGH.

Burns are classified based on the degree of severity and skin thickness. Second-degree burns affect the epidermis (outer layer of skin) and the dermis (lower layer of skin).

They cause pain, redness, swelling and blistering.

Dr Clarence Yeo from Killiney Family & Wellness Clinic said: "This case seems moderately severe and may take weeks to heal."

Pastry chef Andy Foo, who works at a five-star hotel in the Orchard area, said the heat from a culinary torch can reach 200 deg C. The process usually takes about 30 seconds.

"You have to make sure the torch is in good working order," said the veteran with 33 years' experience.

"Usually, a la carte orders are done in the kitchen. We won't do it in front of the customers."

Mr Giovanni Viterale, general manager of The Fullerton Heritage, said the incident happened while brunch was being served at Clifford restaurant.

"No one else was affected," he said.

The chef handling the dessert had joined the hotel about a month ago but has 20 years' experience.

Mr Viterale said staff nearby immediately rushed to the customer's aid while other colleagues called for medical help.

A staff member also accompanied Andrea and her mother to hospital.

"We are extending our full assistance to ensure that she recovers soon," he said.

A review is also being conducted to "prevent the occurrence of similar incidents in the future and to ensure the well-being of our guests", he said.

Besides regular fire drills, the hotel stipulates that every staff member at the hotel undergo a fire safety course.

Chefs also attend a kitchen safety course to handle equipment.

This article was published on May 12 in The New Paper.Get The New Paper for more stories.