Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Up in flames........

"The next thing I know big boom, smoke, screams - something I'll never forget," stated eyewitness Shaquille Glover.

The quick and violent explosion at 3rd St and Wyoming Ave was caught on nearby surveillance cameras and at 5:30 pm, July 1 2014 the La Parridiada Chapina food truck was seen exploding.  The explosion injured 12 people and destroyed the dreams of 42 year old Olga Gaidamez.  Olga and her 17 year old daughter, Jaylin Landaverry, remain in the hospital critically injured, two others have been upgraded and all the others listed as injured have been released.

Witnesses describe hearing a large boom and then seeing the fireball that engulfed the surrounding area.  It damaged nearby cars, two passing cars and telephone poles.  Those injured other than Olga and her daughter Jaylin, were just passing by in the Feltonville section of the city where the explosion occurred.  The explosion did destroy the food truck as well as launch various parts across the street.  One of the two propane tanks that had been on the back of the truck was found about 150 feet away in the backyard of a residence.

Olga was described as having a lifelong dream of owning her own food truck.  She finally made this true two months ago when she purchased the truck.  Nearby residents stated that she had always parked in that location serving food.  Police state that they believe the explosion may be due to a propane leak that then exploded.  They are having the bomb squad assist in the investigation though, to rule out any other possibilities.

According to reports, firefighters respond to propane incidents almost every day in the US, though most are not as sever as this explosion.  The national average seems to be about 315 per year with more than 17.5 million propane tank installations nationwide.  Given that there is less than one incident a day for that number of tanks, some holding thousands of gallons of propane, it seems that they are fairly safe.

The US Chemical and Safety Board (CBS) handles investigations involving propane explosions such as the April 9 1998 in Albert City Iowa and the January 30 2007 explosion in Ghent WV.  In the case in Iowa, it was discovered that the propane leaked from an unprotected above ground pipe that was accidentally hit by an ATV.  That propane caught fire but it led to a Boiling Liquid Expanding Vapor Explosion when an excess pressure value failed.  The explosion that destroyed the Little general Store in Ghent WV was due to a build up of gas that had leaked during a propane transfer.  Propane is not something to fool around with but most accidents seem to be just that, an accident that may be prevented with more diligence when handling or using it.

The video is incredible to watch and it is amazing that more people were not seriously injured by the fireball.  One can only hope that Olga and her daughter will survive and continue to follow their dreams into the future.

*** Update July 7 2014:

Investigators now believe that the explosion was caused by a propane leak from the tank that was not in use at the time.  Witnesses stated that they had smelled gas before the explosion.  The tank may have leaked from the valve being opened slightly, tampered with or just been faulty.  It would have led to gas pooling beneath the truck and ignited when it finally came in touch with an open flame such as the grill itself.

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