Woman in Critical Condition Following Bakery Explosion

By Catherine Cluett Pactol | Editor

Molokai’s Cisilia Defang remains in critical condition as of Sunday, following an accident at Kanemitsu Bakery last week that left 70 percent of her body covered in second and third degree burns. 

Thirty-one-year-old Defang was born deaf and worked at the bakery for more than two years. Kanemitsu Bakery told KHON2 she was one of their best bakers, and her family said she loved her job.

On the evening of July 4, she was working to prepare bread for the next day and turned on the gas stove around 8 p.m., according to the bakery. 

“While preparing to bake the bread, Cisilia went to light one of the three oven’s pilot,” said first cousin Sarah Tancayo, whose mother Josephine also works at the bakery, though was not there that night. Defang’s aunty, Sefery George, who is also deaf, and the head baker were the only employees working with Defang at the time, according to family members. 

“Sefery felt a big movement, which was an explosion,” continued Tancayo. “Sefery… said Cisilia came running to her on fire, signing to her to pat out the fire. Sefery was in shock at first, then used her bare hands to pat out the fire, then got a cloth.”

Bystanders outside heard the explosion and screaming and called 911. 

First responders transported Defang to the hospital, where she was airlifted to Honolulu. 

As of Saturday, July 8, Tancayo said Defang was still heavily sedated due to her injuries. 

“The doctors noticed some movement in her hands and legs, and she did try to open her eyes… She truly does have a fighting spirit in her,” said Tancayo. “As for now all we can do is pray for healing for Cici at this time.”

Family members have been told a gas leak may have been the cause of the accident. 

“Neither of the two deaf workers were trained to recognize the smell of gas, or what to do in case of a fire,” added Tancayo. 

The family has expressed gratitude for the outpouring of support during this time, along with donations made to a GoFundMe account. 

Kanemitsu Bakery remains open at this time. 


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