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Community Rallies to Help Planet Vegan Owner Burned in Explosion

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An explosion injured Planet Vegan co-owner Joe Ellis and a boy walking nearby. (Screengrab/Fresno Fire Department)
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A GoFundMe campaign to help the co-owner of a popular Fresno food truck recover from burns sustained in an explosion Friday has raised nearly $40,000 as of 9 a.m. Tuesday.

And the help is expected to grow substantially. Nearly 30 local food trucks at six venues will donate a portion of their proceeds on Thursday evening to help Joe Ellis, who suffered second-degree burns over 35% of his body.

“From my side of things, we work with food trucks every day and know how a simple thing like a flat tire or broken axle can affect a business,” says Fresno Street Eats President Mike Osegueda. “Something like this explosion sends a shockwave through a business and its employees. Our goal is to help (Planet Vegan) take care of things over the next few weeks before the insurance kicks in.

“Aside from all the trauma, people need to know how they’re going to be able to live their lives.”

Fundraising Goal Is $600K

Friends and family have set a goal of raising $6000,000 to help Ellis with medical care and business losses.

Planet Vegan co-owner Joe Ellis faces a long rehabilitation after an explosion in his food truck severely burned 35% of his body on Friday, June 24, 2022, in Fresno. (gofundme.com)

“Joe has a long road to recovery ahead & your donations will go to help with medical expenses, damages caused by the explosion including the loss of the truck,” organizers posted on the GoFundMe page.

“Joe loves his business Planet Vegan and the people he worked with, he dedicated himself on the truck to serve people plant-based food and creating change to his community. He is grateful for the love and support received during this time. We are blessed and thankful that he is alive.  We ask that you guys keep him, his family, and everyone else affected by this on behalf of Joe in your thoughts and prayers.”

According to family and friends, Ellis will undergo multiple surgeries this week at the Community Regional Medical Center burn center.

Fresno Fire Department investigators have yet to identify the cause of the explosion. The truck was at the Chevron station on the northeast corner of Shaw Avenue and First Street when it blew up, injuring Ellis and a 14-year-old boy who was nearby. A GoFundMe account for the child is at this link.

Food Truck Venues

The food trucks participating in the effort to help Ellis will be at these locations: The Well, at Maple and Nees avenues; Tioga Sequoia Beer Garden, 745 Fulton Street; Crow & Wolf Brewing Company, 526 Spruce Ave., in Clovis; Gazebo Gardens, 3204 N. Van Ness Blvd.; the Kingsburg Farmers Market, Memorial Park, Sierra Street and 18th Avenue, Kingsburg; and Table Mountain Casino, 8184 Table Mountain Rd, in Friant.

Bill McEwen is news director and columnist for GV Wire. He joined GV Wire in August 2017 after 37 years at The Fresno Bee. With The Bee, he served as Opinion Editor, City Hall reporter, Metro columnist, sports columnist and sports editor through the years. His work has been frequently honored by the California Newspapers Publishers Association, including authoring first-place editorials in 2015 and 2016. Bill and his wife, Karen, are proud parents of two adult sons, and they have two grandsons. You can contact Bill at 559-492-4031 or at Send an Email