The van that caught fire and crashed through a cement fence in South Vancouver Monday was carrying hundreds of gallons of illegally acquired gas, according to police.
The vehicle, which authorities initially believed to contain a meth lab, held several large containers of fuel that had already burst into flames before it was driven off the road.
“The fact no one was killed is a little bit remarkable,” said Const. Brian Montague. “This is a large mobile Molotov cocktail riding down the road.”
Montague said the incident mirrors past cases where vehicles have been customized to carry large hauls of stolen gasoline for sale on the black market.
Police suspect the fuel was either syphoned from cars or bought with stolen credit cards.
“All indications are it was obtained illegally somehow,” Montague said.
Two men exited the van and fled the scene after it crashed on Oak Street near 53rd Avenue at around 3:30 p.m. Monday.
About 90 minutes later, two suspects aged 19 and 25 turned up at Eagle ridge Hospital in Coquitlam suffering from severe burns to their upper body, arms, hands, head and face.
Montague said they face criminal charges and fines for transporting dangerous goods. The punishment may pale in comparison with the injuries they’ve already suffered.
“These are individuals that have burn scars,” he said. “Their lives are changed forever.”
Both men remain in hospital in serious condition.