The condition of a Simi Valley restaurateur who told police an attacker doused him with a flammable liquid and set him on fire improved slightly Wednesday, hospital officials said.
Mumtaz Fazil, 45, has been upgraded from critical condition to serious but stable condition at Grossman Burn Center at Sherman Oaks Hospital, registered nurse Elaine Blunt Shortall said.
Fazil was awake and conscious Wednesday and continued to be treated for second- and third-degree burns on his face, chest, arms and knees, the nurse said.
He had surgery Tuesday to replace some of the damaged skin and will undergo another operation Friday, Shortall said.
Fazil told officers he was attacked about 9 p.m. Sunday by a man who came through the back door of his Walck-In restaurant on Kuehner Drive in Simi Valley.
County fire spokesman Joe Luna said that the cause of the fire and the amount of damage sustained to the restaurant had not been determined as of Wednesday night.
Luna refused to say what kind of liquid was poured on Fazil, but police have said it appeared to be gasoline.
Simi Valley Police Lt. Neal Rein said Wednesday that the case is being handled as arson and that Fazil is not a suspect.
Since he bought the business in March, Fazil reported to police that his business has been vandalized more than once, officers said.
“We have no intention of charging him at the moment,” Rein said. “We are assuming what he told us initially is the way it happened.”
Detectives interviewed a man who works at a liquor store near the restaurant who drove Fazil to the hospital after Fazil staggered into the store for help.
Rein also said detectives questioned a woman, who was at the restaurant hours before the fire started, about things she saw and heard.
Simi Valley Police Det. Jay Carrott said several other people who know or work for Fazil will also be questioned.
“We’re checking out the story he has given us,” Carrott said.