Popular South Florida Chef Ralph Pagano Airlifted to Hospital After Explosion in Bimini

Pagano suffered third degree burns to over 40 percent of his body – mainly his arms and legs

A popular South Florida chef was air lifted back to a Miami hospital after an explosion inside his new restaurant in the Bahamas.

Ralph Pagano was in Bimini to open the newest branch of his Naked Taco restaurant inside the Resorts World complex when an explosion occurred, his wife Buffy told NBC 6. 

"I got the phone call yesterday afternoon that there was an explosion in Bimini. I know that I kissed him goodbye yesterday to go to Bimini with all of his skin on and I expected that he come home with all of his skin but apparently there was an explosion and that's all I know," Buffy explained.

Pagano pushed a cook out of the way following an explosion around 3 p.m. Thursday inside the kitchen, suffering third degree burns to over 40 percent of his body – mainly his arms and legs, his wife said.

"He's got third-degree burns over most of his body and that's all we really know right now it's gonna be a long road to recovery for him definitely," Buffy noted. "He's breathing, he's talking he's doing as well as can be expected."

Pagano was rushed to Jackson Memorial Hospital, where his condition is unknown. A source to the Miami New Times the chef was given the okay to turn on gas burners inside the kitchen when the explosion occurred.

His wife is trying to stay positive throughout the recovery. She said her husband's sense of humor is helping them get through this ordeal.

"If you know my husband he's always in good spirits. He's always cracking jokes, you know so he's the best he can. He's a little doped up right now but he's not angry or anything," said Buffy.

Paul Castronovo, the morning host on Big 105.9, was one of the first to tweet the news of his friend who regularly appears on his show.

The Resorts World Bimini released a statement regarding the incident:

“While overseeing the construction of a new Naked Taco restaurant at Resorts World Bimini, Ralph Pagano was seriously injured in an accidental gas fire. No guests or other staff were injured in the incident. The company is fully cooperating with local fire officials and thoroughly investigating the incident. Our thoughts and prayers are with Mr. Pagano and his family.”

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Pagano has become one of the most well-known chefs from South Florida, opening up locations under his “Naked” brand from Miami Beach to the campus of the University of Miami.

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