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Van Bursts Into Flames In Flatiron District

Fire Was So Intense It Partially Cooked Meat Aboard Delivery Van

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A van burst into flames, disrupting traffic around lunchtime Wednesday in the Flatiron District.

The vehicle caught fire around 11 a.m. at Fifth Avenue near 23rd Street near Madison Square Park.

It went up in flames just after the meat delivery truck driver and his helper had jumped out.

“I didn’t know what to think. I was shocked,” driver Moses Higgins told CBS 2’s John Slattery. “Very fortunate we got out. It was very scary.”

Sanitation worker Wilson Jimenez, who works for Flatiron BID, told 1010 WINS he helped get the van’s passengers out of the burning vehicle.

“While the car was coming down they had a trail of gasoline already and by the time they made a full stop, the trail lit up on fire,” Jimenez said through a translator. “That’s when I told them to get out of the car and the driver got out, took a peek and he saw the smoke and the flames.”

“We were stopped at the light and the gentleman over there was cleaning and he said the truck was burning underneath. So I got out and looked and I saw the fire dripping from the wire. We got away from the truck and about 20 seconds later, it just went up in flames,” Higgins told Slattery.

Jimenez and his co-worker, Steven Pujols, also helped clear crowds near the scene, including a group of children.

“I was pretty much putting the kids away, putting them across the street to the Madison Square Park area to make sure they’re safe and far away from the scene,” Pujols said.

The explosion was so bad, Slattery reported, that it totaled the vehicle and partially cooked the tenderloins and chicken inside the van.

The fire forced the closure of Fifth Avenue for an hour and a half.

The fire department responded to the scene and extinguished the blaze.

No injuries were reported.

A witness posted clips of the fire on Vine.

One clip shows smoke and flames shooting into the sky; the other video shows firefighters battling the blaze.

After the fire was extinguished, the street was covered in a foam-like material used to put out the blaze, CBS 2’s Jim Smith reported.

Fifth Avenue and several surrounding streets near the scene of the fire were closed for hours as a result of the blaze and clean up efforts.

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