At approximately 3:35 p.m. on Tuesday, a woman backed into a pump at the Sunoco station at Five Corners in Ellington and started a car fire.
According to Ellington Fire Department Assistant Chief Vince Gambacorta, she was backing up and hit the pump, knocking it over, and catching the car on fire.
There were no injuries.
Gambacorta said that all of the breakaways and security measures worked as they should have and prevented a larger fire.
“There was probably an initial spill of a couple of cups from the piping and everything and maybe there was a spark and maybe that’s what started the car fire,” he said. “It’s the car that really burned up – the car and the plastic sheathing on the post. All the safety devices worked the way they were supposed to. There were no explosions like you see on TV, no rivers of gas pouring everywhere.”
Connecticut State Police Trooper Keith Timme agreed that it was the fuel from the car that was fueling the fire, not from the pump. He added that quick thinking on the part of the station employee who turned off the main switch probably helped to lessen the incident.
The station does not have an overhead extinguishing system in the canopy. Unlike Massachusetts, in Connecticut, it is not required for stations to have the system.
“It might have contained it but I don’t think it would have put it out,” Gambacorta said. “It might have held it in check for a little while, but we got here pretty quickly. We have the station right over the top of the hill so that truck was here pretty quickly.”
The fire department quickly extinquished the fire, ensured that the area was safe, and reopened the rotary to traffic.
In addition to the woman who hit the pump, her husband was also filling up at the station, and another vehicle was in front of the one that hit the pump. The woman in that vehicle took off from the station and was found at a friend’s house on Penfield Ave.
“The lady in the car started running and didn’t stop until she got to some friend’s house on Penfield Ave.,” Gambacorta said. “It took us probably an hour to find her. It took us a long time to find her. She took off and didn’t look back I don’t think. You watch TV; she was right there when it happened, she saw the original flame. I don’t blame her.”
Timme said that the woman who hit the pump is a middle-aged woman who realizes and admits that she made a mistake. According to Timme, the woman hit the gas instead of the brake.
It was an accident on private property and there was no criminal activity.
“That’s why you have insurance,” he said. “There was no negligence as far as malicious negligence at all on anyone’s part. It was an accident.”
In addition to the fire department and police, the building official and a representative from the fire marshal’s office were on hand. Gambacorta said that the building official was involved because of a concern for the structural integrity of the canopy.
Deputy Fire Marshal James York said that from that department’s standpoint, the fire was accidental.
In: Regional News
Tags: raw video, cellphone camera, caught on tape, car fire, gas pump, oops
Location: Ellington, Connecticut, United States (load item map)
Marked as: approved, featured
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