Van Delivering Meat Erupts in Flames in Manhattan

The Flatiron district fire first stoked fears of an explosion

By Andrew Siff
|  Wednesday, Jul 31, 2013  |  Updated 9:06 PM EDT
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A van delivering meat to restaurants in Manhattan caught fire in the heart of the Flatiron district at midday Wednesday. Andrew Siff has more.

NBC 4 New York

A van delivering meat to restaurants in Manhattan caught fire in the heart of the Flatiron district at midday Wednesday. Andrew Siff has more.

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VIEWER VIDEO: Van Erupts in Flames in Manhattan

A van delivering meat to restaurants in Manhattan caught fire in the heart of the Flatiron district at midday Wednesday. Instagram video courtesty of NBC 4 New York viewer James Stolz.
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A van delivering meat to restaurants in Manhattan caught fire in the heart of the Flatiron district at midday Wednesday, and the driver tells NBC 4 New York he escaped just seconds before it erupted.

Moses Huggins, 60, said he was out on deliveries from the meat wholesale company on 27th Street when the unmarked white 2005 Chevy van started smoking.

He stopped and pulled over where Broadway and Fifth Avenue meet, and two nearby building security guards approached the van to tell him it was smoking underneath and urged him to get out. 

Huggins jumped out of the van, and less than a minute later, it was fully engulfed.

"It was very scary," Huggins said. "It was like a terrorist bomb or something went off, the way it was burning." 

Onlookers gathered as the smoky fire grew larger, and online reports and tweets suggested it may have exploded. Law enforcement officials told NBC 4 New York there was no explosion.

One witness, Wellington Adames, said he emerged from the R train at 23rd Street and Broadway to find the van on fire, and the flames and smoke quickly expanded.

He said firefighters were not yet on scene at that point, and battled heavy traffic to reach the van.

After they arrived to fight the fire, he said, "they were going at it for a while."

There were no injuries reported.

"I just thank God... I got out safe and sound," said Huggins. 

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