Friday, April 19, 2002
Page 0

Fire at Etc. hospitalizes UI student

By Tony Robinson

The Daily Iowan

An underage UI junior suffered third-degree burns at a local bar around midnight Wednesday -- and at least two others were hospitalized -- after she spit a shot of hard liquor into a fire that had been started by a bartender, witnesses and police say.

The fire at Etc., 118 S. Dubuque St., started when liquor was poured onto the bar and lit, witnesses and police said. But it flared when Deanine Busche, who is 20 but had been consuming alcohol, attempted to "breathe fire" by spitting alcohol into the open flame, witnesses said.

"Her face was white from being burnt, her arm was on fire, and her hair was singed," said UI freshman Sarah Christeson, who added that she saw Busche run to the bathroom before authorities arrived.

Police and fire officials launched a joint investigation on Thursday to determine who was responsible for the fire.

Authorities arrived at the bar at 12:12 a.m. Thursday after a call for emergency services. Authorities found several persons suffering from burns, many of whom were treated on site and sent home. Three people, including Busche, were transported to UI Hospitals and Clinics.

Don Busche, Deanine Busche's father, said she suffered third-degree burns to her face and second-degree burns to one of her arms. She will be transferred today to Chicago's Loyola Hospital to be closer to the family's Schaumburg, Ill., home.

"She's in good spirits," her father said from the emergency room as his daughter spoke softly in the background. UIHC doctors estimate that Deanine Busche will remain hospitalized for at least two weeks.

Don Busche said he doesn't know if the family will file a lawsuit against Etc.; he has not contacted a lawyer.

Iowa City police Sgt. Bill Campbell would not comment directly on the investigation, but, he said, "it won't be done tomorrow." Investigators say they are interested in speaking to anyone who witnessed the incident, especially those who were burned.

Iowa Code prohibits any person from igniting or maintaining an open fire in a business.

Bar manager Troy Kline routinely lights the bar on fire with Bacardi 151, Christeson said. Wednesday's fire, though, was "much higher and lasted longer than usual," she said. People interviewed by the DI said bartenders at The Summit, 10 S. Clinton St., have also lit liquor on fire. Summit owner Mike Porter did not return calls Wednesday night.

Onlookers said bartender Ross Smith served the shot that led to the incident and repeatedly apologized to Busche while she was placed on a stretcher. Smith declined to comment.

Owner Kip Pohl and Etc. employees declined to comment about Wednesday's events.

Christeson said the bar remained open after authorities left and continued to play music and sell alcohol.

"They just kept going like nothing happened," she said.

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