The quick response by Herminie firefighters early Tuesday morning to an arson at a convenience store fuel pump averted what could have been a serious fire.
Herminie fire Chief Eric Kline said firefighters used a dry chemical to quickly extinguish a gasoline fire that was burning on the ground and on the fuel pump at the Exxon convenience store on Highland Avenue. The fire hall is a few blocks from the convenience store.
Kline said a clerk at the store shut a switch to cut off power to the fuel pumps. The convenience store does not have a fire suppression system, Kline said.
The fuel pump, one of four at the station, was charred and inoperable as a result of the fire, which was reported at 8:10 a.m.
State Police Trooper Chet Bell stated in a news release that a 29-year-old Irwin man is suspected of starting the fire.
Eyewitnesses and surveillance video at the station showed the suspect filling two plastic containers with gasoline, spilling the fuel on the ground and the pump, then igniting the gasoline before fleeing the scene.
While investigating the arson, Bell said he was alerted that a man wearing clothes that fit the description of the suspect was seen walking south in front of traffic on Mars Hill Road, near Scott Haven Road.
Bell said he confronted the suspect, who was wearing the same clothes as the man seen setting the gasoline on fire. The man had burns on his legs, hands, right arm and face. Bell said he was able to identify the suspect from his driver’s license.
During the search for the suspect, Yough High School and H.W. Good Elementary School in Herminie were locked down as a precautionary measure for about an hour, according to a statement issued by Superintendent Janet M. Sardon.
Students and staff were prohibited from going outside until the district was notified that the situation had been resolved, Sardon said.
A review of online criminal court records Tuesday night did not indicate that charges were filed against the suspect, and he was not listed as an inmate at the Westmoreland County Prison.
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This article was written by Joe Napsha from Tribune-Review, Greensburg, Pa. and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.