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AC26-4 goes hry yyxx xxpy xxpy xpyy Diner burned at Eugene restaurant.

Byline: Chelsea Deffenbacher The Register-Guard

A man is recovering from injuries to his chest and face after he was burned at the Japanese steakhouse at Valley River Center in Eugene last month.

A customer at the Fuji Japanese Steak House, a teppanyaki-style restaurant where meals are cooked in front of customers, was lit on fire after the chef accidentally squirted vodka at the man during the final fire trick, according to restaurant manager Vincent Jang.

"He's not really seriously hurt," Jang said Wednesday. "I think he's OK right now."

The incident occurred at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 15. Eugene Springfield Fire dispatch logs show a person was taken to PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center at RiverBend in Springfield from the restaurant by an ambulance.

Because of privacy laws, the man's name has not been released by officials, so his condition and the extent of his injuries were not known.

When asked about the incident Wednesday morning, Jang explained that the fire occurred during the cleaning of the grill, when the chef at the victim's table finished cooking.

The chefs normally squirt vodka on the grill with a condiment squeeze bottle and then light it on fire at the end of the culinary show.

"But this chef was super nervous that day for no reason. He was not new. Maybe he didn't get enough sleep or whatever," Jang said.

Jang said the unidentified chef - who no longer works at the restaurant - lit the fire but squeezed the bottle too hard.

He then thought he burned himself, so he pulled back while still squeezing the bottle, spraying the vodka onto the customer through the open flame, Jang said.

Jang said he didn't see it happen but because "vodka is not super hot; it's just alcohol," he believes the customer's family was able to put out the fire with a napkin before fire and medic crews arrived. He estimated that the fire lasted two seconds.

Jang said he believes the victim only spent one night in the hospital.

"I think he went home the next day," Jang said.

"It was scary. That's never happened before," he added, noting that he's been in the teppanyaki-style restaurant industry for 10 years, previously in North Dakota. "It wasn't that scary for the chef because they play with fire for a couple of seconds and it doesn't hurt (during the cooking show). But he was shocked, and for the customer, it was scary. We told the chef, 'Don't do fire tricks anymore.' "

As a result of the incident, the restaurant no longer performs fire tricks at any table, with the exception of the fire in the beginning of the show, Jang said.

Fuji Japanese Steak House opened in February in the former Chili's location at Valley River Center. State business records show the owner is Yong Chang Chen.

A customer named Keith Pharis posted on Fuji's Facebook page in the reviews section on the day the fire occurred, "Went for my birthday dinner. While we were waiting to order our food, fire burst everywhere and a man was engulfed in flames! The man suffered from second-degree burns. It was so scary for my family and kids, we left immediately to another safer dinner experience."

Pharis gave the restaurant a one-star review.

He could not be reached for comment.

Follow Chelsea on Twitter @ChelseaDeffenB. Email
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Title Annotation:Fires; A chef at the Fuji Japanese Steak House at Valley River Center accidentally shoots vodka at a man during the final fire trick
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Sep 21, 2017
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