Potential explosion at Surf City gas station avoided after staff activate emergency fuel shutoffs

A car fire at a Surf City gas station late Monday morning. (Courtesy Barbara Rummel)

SURF CITY — A potential explosion was avoided today when employees at a Surf City gas station activated emergency shutoffs for the fuel pumps after noticing a car was on fire next to one of the pumps.

According to Surf City Fire Chief Allen Wilson, the car fire at Topsail Exxon was reported to his department at 11:09 a.m. Monday morning.

“There’s definitely some potential there, and for it to turn out like it did was definitely a benefit,” Wilson said Monday afternoon.


According to Wilson, the fire was caused by some sort of mechanical malfunction inside the vehicle after the passenger had finished filling the tank with gasoline. Although the nearby fuel pump contributed to “a much more hazardous situation,” he said it did not contribute to the fire itself.

“He had already finished fueling up. The fueling part of the car did not contribute to the fire,” Wilson said.

The SCFD crew attacked the fire like any other car fire because of the employees’ decision to close off all gas flow to the ground level pumps, according to Wilson.

“You hope safety features like that actually work. And as long as they operate like they’re supposed to, that fuel risk is dramatically reduced,” he said, noting the functionality of safety valves and other emergency features prevented a potential explosion or spread of the fire.


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