Moment outdoor table heater explodes and kills 19-year-old girl and injures eight of her friends at restaurant

Originally published on Dailymail

  • Lucía Costa suffered burns to 40 percent of her body and went into cardiac arrest at a local hospital before she was declared dead Saturday
  • The 19-year-old was sitting at a Zar Bar table in Buenos Aires, Argentina, when an outdoor table heater exploded Friday night
  • At least eight other teens between the ages of 16 and 19 also suffered burns 
  • At least three teens remained hospitalized due to the severity of their burns

A 19-year-old girl has died after an outdoor table heater exploded at a restaurant in Argentina.

The tragic incident unfolded Friday night at Zar Burger, in the Buenos Aires town of San Miguel a few minutes after an employee had poured a container of alcohol on to a ceramic vase to recharge the flames that kept the guests warm. 

Bar surveillance video shows the group of teens, including the victim, Lucía Costa, huddling around a table and talking before two other girls arrived and sat down on the table stools. 

A couple of seconds passes before the table heater explodes, immediately engulfing the teens in flames sending some of them crashing to the ground and others running away. Eight of Costa’s teenage friends, aged 16 – 19, were also injured in the explosion. 

HMN - Moment outdoor table heater explodes and kills 19-year-old girl and injures eight of her friends at restaurant
Lucía Costa (circled) was having dinner with her friends at Zar Burger in the Buenos Aires town of San Miguel before the outing turned tragic
Last photo: An image posted to social media moments before the tragic incident shows Lucía Costa (pictured center) spending a night out with friends from her local church for the first time since March due to the coronavirus pandemic

Pablo Costa told C5N television that his daughter spent two hours inside the restaurant before the blast. 

It was her first night out with friends from her church group since March due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

A selfie uploaded to the social media account of one Costa’s friends shows her smiling in the background a short while before the explosion.  

Costa’s uncle, Maximiliano, told Argentine news television station Todo Noticias that his niece attempted to run for the exit before she fell to the ground.

Surveillance camera at Zar Burger captures the moment the heater exploded

He said some of her friends removed their jackets to put out the flames that engulfed Costa’s body.

‘She was on the floor crying and screaming because the whole body was on fire,’ Maximiliano said.

The distraught uncle said additional video footage showed how a male came to Costa’s aid and grabbed a fire extinguisher to put out the flames. He said it took first responders close to 30 minutes to arrive. 

Maximiliano add that Costa suffered burns to 40 per cent of her body including to her face, chest, and arms, and that her  ‘respiratory tract was compromised’.

A witness at the restaurant told the family that Costa had previously complained to the waiters because the wind was causing the flames to expand beyond the vase. 

It is not clear why the employee poured alcohol on to the flames. 

Lucía Costa suffered burns to her face, chest, and arms after an outdoor table heater exploded at a restaurant in Argentina on Friday

‘Zar Burger deeply regrets the incident that took place last night,’ the restaurant said in a statement. 

‘We share the sorrow of Lucía Costa’s family and we look forward to the prompt recovery of the other youngsters. From the first moment, we focused on every effort to clarify what happened, collaborating with justice.’ 

Friends and family have scheduled a demonstration for Wednesday to press authorities to charge the bar owners for Costa’s death. 

‘The bar does not comply with the social distance protocols, has no emergency exit and should have been more cautious with the combustion device because it used alcohol gel on the tables,’ family lawyer Manuel Aramayo told C5N on Sunday. 

‘The establishment only had one fire extinguisher,’ he added.

At least three teens remained hospitalized due to the severity of their burns. 

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