Three students burned in cooking class flambe project


One of three Washington County Technical High School culinary arts students burned Thursday while working on a flamb project was in critical condition Thursday night at a Baltimore burn center with third-degree burns to his face, chest and arms.

Dustin Holley, 17, of Smithsburg, was taken by ambulance to Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center in Baltimore after initial treatment at Washington County Hospital.

A nursing supervisor at Bayview said Holley was in critical condition Thursday night.

Washington County Public Schools spokeswoman Carol Mowen said the other two students, who were burned on the arms and hands, were treated at Washington County Hospital and released.


Mowen said the three students - Holley, an 18-year-old male from Smithsburg and an 18-year-old female from Clear Spring - were working together on a cooking project when they were burned at around 11:43 a.m.

One of the students was showing the other two how to prepare a flamb chicken dish and was at the point where cooking liquor was to be poured into a pan on the stove. The cooking liquor ignited and flashed back, burning all three students, said Boyd J. Michael III, Director of Secondary Education.

The gas stove didn't catch on fire, he said.

Michael released Holley's name Thursday night but wouldn't say which student was performing the demonstration because of conflicting reports, he said.

Funkstown firefighters were called to the school as were ambulance personnel from Halfway and Community Rescue Service, according to Washington County Fire and Rescue Communications.

While not originally dispatched, Hagerstown City Police sent a patrol unit to the school Thursday afternoon to investigate, said Lt. Margaret Kline. Once it was determined the incident was an accident, no further investigation or report was warranted, she said.

The students were working under the direction of Chef Michael Toth and three adult aides, said Technical High School Principal Arnold Hammann.

The class of 12 students were using a flamb technique that many had learned in their junior year, said Michael.

Halfway paramedic Alan Matheny said Holley had third-degree burns to his chest and face. The student appeared to be in "extreme pain," said Matheny, who treated the students along with firefighters from Funkstown.

The female student's burns were second-degree and the other male student had minor burns, he said.

Staff Writer Marlo Barnhart contributed to this story.

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