A propane-powered fryolator burst into “a ball of fire” just before 11 a.m. that morning, said York Village Fire Department Chief Chris Balentine, but was quickly extinguished by a sprinkler system in the popular York Street eatery.
Balentine said one burn victim was standing at the fryolator and one was standing nearby when the flash fire erupted. Both were transferred to Maine Medical Center, he said, with “non-life-threatening, but serious” burns.
According to the GoFundMe page for employee BreeAnne McDowell, “a beloved member of our Rick’s team,” she sustained “substantial burns covering a large portion of her body. She has a long recovery ahead of her and we’d like her to have everything she needs to be able to focus on her full recovery.”
The second employee, Marianne Porter, “experienced substantial burn injuries to her face and hands. As a mother of two, we would like her to be comfortable taking her time to heal,” states the GoFundMe page.
Collectively, Gould calls the two employees “Rick’s Chicks.”
Balentine said later that he believed there was a buildup of propane in the line, and “it exploded with an unknown ignition source.” The state fire marshal’s office has been called in because the fire resulted in a workplace injury. The town’s health officer is also involved in the investigation.
When firefighters arrived at the scene, the restaurant’s sprinkler system had already activated in the kitchen area of the restaurant. At the scene, a strong smell of propane gas permeated the area outside of the restaurant, and the fire alarm had been activated.
Balentine said water damage was confined to the kitchen area, which has a concrete floor.
York Beach Fire Department also responded with its ladder truck, but was released after 20 minutes or so to return to the station.
Gould opened Rick’s in the fall of 2016. The restaurant sat vacant for some time following a fire in the Realty Building, where it is located, in August 2015.
In a Facebook post, Gould thanked the community “for your outpouring of love and support.”
To support McDowell, visit
https://www.gofundme.com/breeanne-mcdowell-the-ricks-chicks; to support Porter, visit https://www.gofundme.com/the-ricks-chicks-porter?member=938496.
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