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6 Injured When Servers Ignite Bar Top in Iowa

April 21, 2002|From Associated Press

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Bartenders who allegedly poured rum on a bar top and ignited it to entertain patrons could face criminal charges, police said Friday.

At least six people were burned in the fire last week.

Bartenders at the college hangout Et Cetera learned the stunt in Acapulco, Police Chief R.J. Winkelhake said. Investigators are reviewing whether it violated fire codes.

People clapped as they watched the bartenders ignite the rum, creating a flickering line of fire, said Scott VandenBusch, a student from Franklin, Wis.

"All of a sudden, there was a huge fireball. Everybody was right up against the bar when it happened. It flashed for about two or three seconds. The whole group started screaming," he said.

"We saw this flame go up and we all backed away," said Whitney Grabinski, a University of Iowa student.

One woman suffered third-degree burns to her face and hands. Three people were treated at a hospital and two others were treated at the scene.

Police said the fire may have injured several others.

"We believe that we don't have all the people that were injured in the fire accounted for," Sgt. William Campbell said.

The bartenders apparently intended the flames to burn out quickly, authorities said.

Et Cetera owner Ryan Rooney did not immediately return phone messages left at his office Friday.

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