Hit-and-run causes gas pump fire in Schenectady

Posted at: 07/31/2013 9:45 AM
Updated at: 07/31/2013 1:52 PM
By: Subrina Dhammi

The damaged gas pump, after a car hit it early this morning.
The damaged gas pump, after a car hit it early this morning.
Photo: Brian Storey / WNYT

SCHENECTADY - A potentially big fire was avoided in Schenectady after a car crashed into a gas pump and then took off.

Schenectady police say it all started with an accident between two cars at Crane Street and Fourth Avenue. They say 21-year-old Steven Braxton fled that scene in his 2007 Mitsubishi, racing down Crane Street towards Broadway. Police say Braxton failed to negotiate a turn and crashed into a pump at the Mobil station on Broadway.

The fire suppression system kicked in preventing any explosions, but the pump was ripped into pieces. The crushed metal is in a pile next to where the pump used to be.

There's a hole in the ground where workers with Northeast Petroleum are checking to see if the piping underground was damaged because of heat from the flames.

The fire started after a car hit the gas pump at the Mobil station on Broadway in Schenectady late Tuesday night and took off.

"It was like a feud, you know, going back at each other," said station clerk Montaz Hoteki.

The attendant working at the time triggered the fire suppression system.

Ken Spencer, who fixes these messes, says the workers at the station did everything right, preventing a potential disaster.

"Any fire is very dangerous. All the safety equipment that the manufacturer put in all worked properly. Everything shut off. The only thing that really burned is the residual property that was left in the pump itself," said Spencer.

For now, all pumps are off, costing the gas station a lot of business. The station is working to reopen the pumps as soon as possible.

A vehicle parked at the gas station also suffered damage when it was hit by debris from the crash.

Police caught up with Braxton. He's now charged with fourth-degree criminal mischief and third-degree aggravated unlicensed operation. He's being held at the Schenectady County Jail in lieu of $5,000 bail.