Explosion Prompts Inspections at 4th of July Jam

This weeks explosion prompted action by the Philadelphia fire department

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A food truck explosion that injured a dozen people led fire crews to make propane tank inspections a high priority. (Published Friday, Jul 4, 2014)

    Philadelphia's new fire commissioner -- concerned that another food truck explosion could occur while thousands of people attend the Wawa Welcome America Festival -- ordered inspections of all the propane tanks being used by vendors along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

    "These propane tanks cook our food," said Nate Pennachietti of Innovative Catering Concepts. "Without those nobody would be eating on the Parkway."

    On Tuesday, a propane tank on the back of a food truck exploded, critically injuring five people, including a mother and her teenage daughter. Investigators believe that tank was leaking and the blast was set off by a grill inside the truck.

    The same tanks are a common site with food trucks and vendors participating in large events like Welcome America.

    Despite the fire commissioner's concerns, many revelers were too preoccupied with securing the best spot to take in the evening's show -- which included performances by Nicki Minaj, Ed Sheeran and The Roots -- to notice the potential danger.

    "I'm coming here rain, sleet, snow. I don't care, thunderstorms, I'm still here," said Dandre Cornelius of Clarksville, Tenn.

    As Cornelius and others waited for the concert to kick off, officials with the Philadelphia Fire Department and the city's Department of Licenses and Inspections went from truck to truck to conduct thorough inspections.

    "We are confident that we are not going to have any propane problems on the Parkway," said Philadelphia Fire Dept. Chief Anthony Hudgins.

    And the vendors appreciated their efforts after the scary explosion Tuesday.

    "Every stand has two or three tanks," Pennachietti said. "They are doing the extra job of checking every nozzle and every tank."

    The city of Philadelphia does not mandate inspections for propane tanks, although in some other major cities like Boston and Chicago, the fire department is charged with that responsibility.