Four young chefs were preparing Sri Lankan food for an upcoming event when a gas explosion scorched their pop-up kitchen on Wednesday night, leaving them with severe burns.
All four people were in a stable condition at Canberra Hospital on Thursday, after two were in serious condition after the explosion ripped through the re-purposed shipping container at Canberra City Farm about 11pm, the Brisbanee Times reported.
They suffered burns to up to 40 per cent of their bodies, including to their legs, torso and faces, according to paramedics.
ACT Work Safety Commissioner Greg Jones said preliminary investigations indicated the explosion occurred around the time the chefs were changing LPG gas bottles.
The blast gutted the shipping container, which commercial kitchen business Homegrown Me has hired out to users since April last year.
Homegrown Me founder Georgina Prasad said she was devastated and shocked after being informed of the explosion late on Wednesday.
Ms Prasad did not disclose the identity of the chefs, but said they had used the kitchen previously and were preparing food for an event when the explosion occurred.
“They are a young, emerging small business and they are very keen to share their [Sri Lankan] culture and their food,” Ms Prasad said.
“They had only recently started up in the past few months, and this kitchen was an opportunity for them to try and establish themselves.”
Ms Prasad said a range of groups and businesses used the kitchen, including not-for-profits, refugee groups and aspiring restaurateurs.
She said all users were required to undertake safety training before they were allowed to use the kitchen.
Mr Jones said the kitchen’s safety procedures, as well as the equipment and appliances used on site would be scrutinised as part of the WorkSafe investigation.
ACT Policing are not investigating the incident.
Canberra City Farm president Keith Colls, whose organisation leases the space for the shipping container to Ms Prasad, said the explosion was devastating for the community.
Mr Colls said the farm used the Homegrown Me kitchen to make products, including jam.
“We are happy to support Georgina in getting the kitchen back up an running because it is a really useful asset to have,” Mr Colls said.
“From the farm’s point of view, it is really important as it value-adds for us – we don’t need to go and hire a commercial kitchen to make our jams and chutneys.
“We would love to see it stay.”