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Gas involved in Port Moody blast
A van explosion in Port Moody last summer that sent a woman to hospital closely resembles a spate of recent incidents involving stolen gasoline in other parts of the Lower Mainland.
Vancouver police this week arrested two people after officers discovered two vans that had been modified to carry hundreds of extra litres of gasoline. The two suspects allegedly used stolen credit cards to fill the tanks and intended to re-sell the fuel on what police are calling a growing black market for gas.
The incidents look similar to a case along St. Johns Street on July 5, when a white van exploded in the McDonald's parking lot next to the Port Moody Police Station.
"It is the same premise," said Port Moody Police Department Const. Luke van Winkel. "At this point, we don't believe it is the same group."
Police initially said the Port Moody explosion was an industrial accident due to the unsafe storage of fuel. However, van Winkel confirmed on Thursday that the van was carrying a 1,000-litre fuel tank that was half full of gasoline at the time of the incident.
The blast tore the roof off the van and witnesses in homes blocks away said they felt the explosion. One woman was sent to hospital and St. Johns Street was shut down shortly after 2 p.m., snarling afternoon traffic.
Van Winkel said the owner of the van was given multiple violation tickets under the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act totalling more than $2,000. No criminal charges are currently being sought and police have not been able to determine whether the fuel that caused the blast was stolen.
The explosion is similar to another incident earlier this month, when a van blew up then crashed at Oak Street near 53rd Avenue on Oct. 7. Police described the vehicle as a "mobile Molotov cocktail."
The black market for gasoline poses serious safety risks and people should not purchase fuel from unlicensed dealers, van Winkel said.
"Gasoline is a very regulated commodity with regards to how it is distributed," he said. "There are huge environmental and safety concerns around this... Are you really saving that much?"
-with files from CTV News