PHILADELPHIA – A propane tank on a food truck exploded in Philadelphia Tuesday, sending a huge fireball into the sky and injuring at least 11 people, including two who suffered serious burns, police said.
The explosion outside an auto body shop in the city’s Feltonville neighborhood caused serious burns to a 27-year-old woman and teenage girl, said Philadelphia Police Chief Inspector Scott Small. He said that four others were listed in stable condition at area hospitals and at least five others were treated and released.
Small said that the two critically injured victims suffered serious burns across a substantial portion of their bodies.
Surveillance video from two businesses near the La Parrillada Chapina food truck captured the explosion, followed by a huge fireball that engulfed the truck and crossed to the other side of the street, Small said.
A utility pole on the other side of the street caught fire, but the fireball did not reach the homes across the street or businesses next to the truck.
Two cars driving by the explosion were briefly engulfed by flames, Small said, and five people inside were treated and released from area hospitals.
Small said that the four-foot propane tank that exploded, one of two that fuels the food truck, was found about 150 feet away in a residential backyard.
The city’s fire department, along with police detectives and the bomb squad were investigating.
“We want to ensure that this was an accidental explosion. We want to ensure this wasn’t anything criminal,” Small said. “The bomb squad is investigating to see if there is any foul play. That will be the result of a completed investigation.”
Jane Kim, the owner of a store next to the auto body shop, said that the food truck is parked outside daily. She said that she heard the explosion and was shaken by the incident.
“We thought something fell over. Then all of a sudden we heard screams,” neighbor Nicole Ellis told WCAU-TV. “We walked outside and the truck was billowing fire.”
Neighbor Luis Rivera told The Philadelphia Inquirer that his home across the street shook from the blast.
“I thought it was a car accident - there are usually a lot on this street,” he said. “Then I came outside and saw the lunch truck in flames.”
Three police officers from the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority stationed down the street were the first to respond to the fire and help some of the victims. Spokeswoman Heather Redfern said the officers helped two women who were badly burned, including one standing at the back of the truck and one sitting at a table nearby.