Firefighters were called to the area of City Avenue and 50th Street around 9:15 a.m.
ElHaji Bumbuka says he and his co-worker, Clyde Perkins, were delivering some trash they removed from local train stations to the dump - as part of their job as SEPTA contractors - when their Dodge Ram pickup truck's ignition started failing.
But Bumbuka says that was just the beginning.
"It was smoking. The whole car was smoking. Next thing you know, it started sparking so we jumped out," Bumbuka said.
The problem was that they were stopped on the incline where City Avenue goes over the train tracks at Bala Station. And even though the Dodge pickup was put into park, Perkins says it started rolling back into oncoming traffic.
"ElHaji jumped in and tried to put it back in park and it wouldn't stop, so he turned the wheel, so it wouldn't hit the traffic behind us. It drifted to the side and that's when the flames erupted," Perkins said.
The truck came to a stop in some shrubs right outside of an Bala Apartments.
Firefighters arrived a short time later to douse the flames and the apartment building endured only minor damage.
Eileen Brando, who works in the office of the Bala Apartments, saw the whole thing unfold from her desk.
"There was a lot of smoke, and then we heard an explosion and then there was a lot of fire. It took the firemen a while to get the fire out. It looked like they had it out but then it started up again. It was pretty scary,"
ElHaji Bumbuka suffered a minor ankle injury.
Clyde Perkins, who was not hurt, says there was only one thing on his mind when he started seeing flames - "To live."
City Avenue was shut down for a little more than an hour while the scene was cleared.