By Ben Fractenberg
FLATIRON— A propane tank on a food vendor's cart exploded in flames Friday morning at Fifth Avenue and 21st Street, giving bomb-jittery retailers a start.
The incident happened around 9:30 a.m. on the southwest corner of Fifth and 21st Street, in the Flatiron district, directly in front of the Club Monaco store.
Birdy Santana 34, said the vendor jumped clear of the cart when the flames erupted and ran across the street to call the Fire Department.
Minutes later, two firemen were putting out the flames, which Santana said reached about 10 feet into the air.
“We all get nervous since the Times Square bomb,” said Santana.
The vendor was apparently unhurt, but extensive damage to his cart put the future of his livelihood in doubt.
“He was a nice guy,” said a Club Monaco employee, Steven Anderson, “There was always a line for his truck.”
Another local vendor, Ahmed Abdelaziz, 29, who operates a cart on the north side of 21st and 5th said the incident could have been avoided if the city had stronger safety regulations.
“The health department should require we have a fire extinguisher,” said Abdelaziz. “If I had one I could have helped.”