MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The man whose food truck blew up in his driveway last month had been told by the city of the Lakeville that he could not park it there.

The city told Marty Ritchie in 2012 that having the truck there was a violation of city code.

Around 10 p.m. on March 6 the truck, known as Motley Crews Heavy Metal Grill, blew up, leaving a scene resembling tornado wreckage. A number of homes were damaged, and two people suffered minor injuries.

According to Ritchie’s attorney and city officials, Ritchie moved his truck after the 2012 warning, but eventually he moved it back to his driveway. The city said there were never any additional complaints, so they never went back to check.

Three and a half weeks after the food truck exploded, the Lakeville street still looks like the aftermath of a disaster. Three houses are still boarded up and can’t be occupied.

The city’s fire chief said the clean up won’t be over until a final inspection next week by insurance companies and the state fire marshal.

A number of neighbors told WCCO they are upset both with how long the clean up has taken and that the city was not able to keep Ritchie’s food truck out of his driveway.

“It’s on a complaint basis,” Lakeville City Administrator Justin Miller said. “We enforce all of our codes based on complaints, and we had not received any complaints after this initial request.”

The Minnesota Food Truck Association said most of the Twin Cities’ nearly 100 food trucks are affiliated with local restaurants and park in either restaurant or other commercial parking lots.

While a food truck explosion in Philadelphia killed two people last year, the Minnesota Food Truck Association said food trucks here, and across the country, are highly regulated and very safe.

“This explosion was a very unusual circumstance,” said John Levy, president of the Minnesota Food Truck Association. “You know it’s a matter of something very unusual having happened, probably with the propane system, although we are not sure of exactly what happened.”

The cause of the Lakeville explosion is still under investigation.

Because of the explosion, the Minnesota Food Truck Association is offering additional safety inspections to all its member food
trucks at reduced costs. The inspections are beyond the inspections food trucks are already required to go through by the municipalities that license them.

Ritchie’s neighbors offered different explanations for why they did not complain when he moved the food truck back and was parking it in his driveway. A couple of them said they did not want to give the owner a hard time because it was his business. A couple others did not realize that it was against city code and that he had been told to move the food truck back in 2012.

Esme Murphy

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