Celebrity chef injured in kitchen explosion on road to recovery

MIAMI (WSVN) - Celebrity chef Ralph Pagano is now on the road to recovery after he was injured in a kitchen explosion in the Bahamas.

Pagano was in the process of opening his new restaurant in June on the island of Bimini when there was some kind of explosion in the kitchen. He suffered severe burns on over 30 percent of his body, and needed to be airlifted to Jackson Memorial Hospital.

“I was on fire, my hair was on fire, my shirt was on fire, my pants were on fire, my shoes were stuck to my feet,” Pagano described.

Pagano said he remembers the moment the explosion happened and how he feared for his life.

“I hit the ground, and when I hit the ground, I screamed, ‘NO!’ because I thought that moment where you see your life flash before your eyes. That’s what I really thought that happened,” Pagano said. “I stood up, and there’s a pool in front of the restaurant, and then there’s a shower kiosk, restrooms and showers, so I went over to the showers and started to just run cold water on, and at that point, I saw the skin was dripping off my body.”

7News caught up with Pagano after a ceremony held by the hospital to reveal new $500,000 renovations made to the Florida Power and Light Company Power to Care Jackson Memorial Hospital Burn Rehabilitation Therapy Unit.

The new equipment included parallel bars, trampolines and exercise equipment.

Pagano is now one of the many patients using the equipment as he goes through rehab for his injuries.

“Until four days ago, I couldn’t walk,” Pagano said. “I’ve been here for a month.”

Although he still has a bit to go before he makes a full recovery, he is grateful that his injuries weren’t worse.

“I’m thankful I didn’t breathe in any of the fire. I’m thankful that it didn’t burn my eyes. I’m thankful I get to see my kids again, and it’s all because of the doctors and nurses and everything that goes on here. It’s quite an amazing spot,” he said.

Pagano owns Naked Taco on Miami Beach and Naked Crab in Fort Lauderdale. 7News previously featured Pagano at one of his restaurants.

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