CNG-powered truck explodes in Los Angeles

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A small fire turned into a large explosion caught on video when a CNG-powered truck erupted, injuring at least seven firefighters Thursday morning in Los Angeles, California. 

Firefighters remain on the scene as details continue to emerge, but about 13 minutes after an automotive fire was reported to authorities, an explosion rendered a large section of LA the scene of an incident. It's unclear what caused the initial fire. 

"Firefighters arrived to find a CNG-powered semi truck (tractor-only) on fire, and deployed hose lines to address the flames," a release from the L.A. Fire Department read. "Six minutes after ten firefighters arrived on scene, an explosion injured at least seven of our members (2 of which were in critical condition, and all 7 transported to area hospitals)."

LAFD hazmat specialists were on-scene, the release added. "Firefighters have set up a 500-foot perimeter around the location of the blast. Residents are encouraged to stay inside. There are no homes within the immediate danger zone and no formal evacuations have been ordered."

As of the time of the release, the wreckage remained on fire.

CNG-powered trucks run on natural gas, many on an alternative version of it consisting of methane harvested from landfills, according to the California Air Resources Board. "The gas is extracted from the source and compressed to a high pressure where it can be stored in a vehicle fuel tank," CARB wrote of CNG trucks

That compressed gas likely caused the explosion, which shook the nearby neighborhood, video shows. 

As with diesel-powered dray trucks, CARB's rules attempted to bar CNG-powered trucks being added to the port drayage registry starting back in January, but that rule got halted in court. Again as with diesel, CARB hopes to fully phase out CNG by 2035, stating that, although many are powered by a renewable resource, they're not truly "zero emissions" vehicles. 

A spokesperson from the LAFD said the driver of the CNG truck, which was bobtailing at the time, likely was not injured -- the explosion took place a good while after the initial fire -- but that LAFD is still investigating the matter. 

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