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Passengers Narrowly Escape Van Before it Bursts Into Flames, Witnesses Say

By  Heather Holland and Aidan Gardiner | July 31, 2013 11:32am | Updated on July 31, 2013 3:12pm

 A van in the Flatiron burts into flames Wednesday morning.
Van Bursts Into Flames
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FLATIRON — Two men narrowly escaped a van moments before it burst into flames in the Flatiron Wednesday morning. 

Unbeknownst to both the driver and his passenger, a white van heading south on Fifth Avenue began spewing smoke about 11 a.m., said Wilson Jimenez, 42, a member of the Flatiron Partnership's sanitation team.

Jimenez alerted the driver as soon as the van halted at the 24th Street stop light, Jimenez said.

"I told him, 'Get out of the van, get out of the van!'" Jimenez said in Spanish, through a translator.

The driver and his passenger got out of the van, saw the smoke and flames, and immediately gathered as much property from the van as they could, said Jimenez.

The van exploded moments after the two escaped it, Jimenez said.

"They looked pretty shook up, but nothing bad happened to them," said Steven Pujols, a safety officer for the Flatiron Partnership who said he was working in the Flatiron Plaza when the explosion happened.

No injuries were immediately reported.