NEWEST COVERAGE: Leaking Gas Ignited by Grill Flame Caused Food Truck Blast, Investigators Say
A propane tank on a Philadelphia food truck exploded Tuesday afternoon engulfing a busy street in a fireball. A mother and her teenage daughter were severely burned and 10 others were injured.
The La Parrillada Chapina food truck was parked along 3rd Street near Wyoming Avenue in the city's Feltonville section when around 5:30 p.m. the rear left propane tank ignited, Philadelphia Police said. The force of the blast sent the metal tank flying 50 feet into the backyard of a home as flames shot 200 feet into the air.
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Surveillance video showed the intensity of the explosion and how fire engulfed both cars and people along the street.
Olga Galdemez, 42, and her 17-year-old daughter, Jaylin Landaverry, were working inside the truck when the tank blew. They suffered major burns across much of their bodies, family members told NBC10.com on Wednesday. Bystanders were also burnt and hit with debris.
"I turned around and saw the fire coming toward me," said Latoya Page. She suffered first degree burns to the left side of her body. "I fell, got back up and started running again."
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Nicole Ellis lives nearby and ran outside after the blast rocked her house to find walking wounded.
"A girl was walking by from the nail salon and her whole back got sprayed with debris," Ellis said. "She was screaming all the way up the street, 'I'm on fire! I want my mom! I want my mom!' And then a man sitting on his porch actually got caught with fire as well. It was pretty bad."
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Ellis said once she realized what had happened, she grabbed her phone and called 911 for help.
"I was screaming and yelling on the phone," Ellis said. "I started panicking, because the lady was just sitting there and she was on fire. You could see the fire coming from her body."
Other witnesses said one person was blown from inside the truck.
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Shaquille Glover, who lives with Ellis, told NBC10.com what he heard was almost as horrific as what he saw.
"The sounds of the screams," Glover said. "I'll never forget that."
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Glover was about to go inside his home on Wyoming when he heard the blast.
"I heard a loud boom like a bomb," Glover said. "The propane splashed all the way across the street on a pole. That's why the pole was on fire and people that were walking by got burned. A lady got burned on her back. Another lady got burned on her face. It was just the sounds of the screams. There was a good two minutes of screams before the cops even came."
SEPTA Police officers stationed across the street quickly ran over to the scene to help after feeling the explosion. Responding firefighters were able to control the flames.
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"We noticed that somebody was sitting at the table still that was burned, but the smoke was just going past her and getting to us," Glover said. "They said they couldn't touch her because she was burned. Two minutes later, they grabbed her and put her in the ambulance."
Five of the 12 victims -- the mother and daughter, a 23-year-old man, a 27-year-old woman and 13-year-old girl -- remain hospitalized.
The 42-year-old and 17-year-old are both in critical condition at Temple University Hospital. The 23-year-old woman and 13-year-old were both upgraded from critical to stable. Police say the 23-year-old suffered second and third-degree burns to her entire body. The eight other victims were treated and released.
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Wyoming between 3rd and 4th streets was blocked off for hours before reopening shortly before 11 p.m. The backyard where the propane landed is being treated as a crime scene.
The Philadelphia Police Bomb Squad, East Detective Division and the Philadelphia Fire Marshal's Office are all investigating to determine the cause of the explosion.