State Politics

Boise lawmaker Rubel recovering from serious burns in kitchen accident

Rep. Ilana Rubel, D-Boise
Rep. Ilana Rubel, D-Boise

Boise State Rep. Ilana Rubel is recovering from serious burns she suffered last week when a pot of hot cooking oil burst into flames.

Rubel, 44, suffered second- and third-degree burns in the accident, which occurred at her home Wednesday. She was admitted to Saint Alphonsus Hospital and released Sunday, and is now recovering at home pending skin graft surgery on her right arm.

“It was rather spectacularly terrible,” she said Monday.

Rubel said she was helping her daughter Claire and a classmate prepare a deep-fried cactus dish for a Spanish class project Wednesday night when vegetable oil in a pot caught fire. She said she got the kids out of the kitchen and took the pot off the stove to carry it outside.

“It didn’t seem like a crazy thing,” she said. “It looked like just a small fire in the pan. I went and tried to move it to my back deck, and it exploded all over me.”

“At that point every instinct in my body wants to drop this flaming pot of oil,” she added. But she had to “hold it that much longer” to get outside with it.

Rubel said there was about half an inch of oil in the pot. She had chosen a big pasta pot rather than a fry pan to minimize the risk of splatter.

“I was really surprised,” she said. “I obviously knew that grease fires could be a very dangerous thing but I really would not have expected that a small amount of vegetable oil in the bottom of a pasta pot would lead to this kind of mayhem.”

Rubel received burns on her face, neck, arms, hands and chest. Her daughter made the 911 call to summon help.

“I’m grateful my eyes are OK, and I’m really most grateful that I’m here rather than my daughter or her friend,” she said, second-guessing herself on how in retrospect she would have reacted.

Rubel is a Democrat in her second term and assistant House minority leader. She said she expects to be recovered in four to six weeks.

Bill Dentzer: 208-377-6438, @DentzerNews