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Fire erupts near gas pump at Leeds station

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    A truck from Bronze Contracting, the company demolishing the former Quality Inn on Route 23B, was destroyed in a fire Thursday morning.

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    A truck fire spread to a gas pump at the Xtra-Mart in Leeds on Thursday.

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    A truck fire spread to a gas pump at the Xtra-Mart in Leeds on Thursday.

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    Dana Rudgers, of Cobleskill, tried to extinguish the flames with a fire extinguisher Thursday morning.

January 3, 2019 12:18 pm Updated: January 3, 2019 03:59 pm

LEEDS — Quick action by firefighters prevented a tense situation from becoming much worse early Thursday.

The XtraMart on county Route 23B is closed indefinitely after a truck burst into flame at a gas pump at 7:56 a.m., Leeds Fire Chief Tom McCullough said.

The vehicle — a crew-cab pickup with utility compartments — and adjacent gas pump were fully engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived at the gas station, 375 county Route 23B.

The cause of the blaze remains under investigation, but fire officials believe it started in the engine compartment of the pickup truck, McCullough said.

The truck was owned by Bronze Contracting of Remsen, in Oneida County. The company is demolishing the former Quality Inn on Route 23B. Work at the former hotel began Wednesday morning and is expected to take two weeks.

The Greene County Industrial Development Agency acquired the property in 2017.

“Something in the engine caught fire and it went up real fast,” IDA Executive Director Rene VanSchaack said.

No one was injured in the fire, he said.

“It was a small delay this morning, but we are back to work,” VanSchaack added.

Another driver was filling up a storage tank with diesel fuel when the fire broke out, McCullough said.

“Thankfully, they had emergency shutoffs that prevented any further incident,” the fire chief said, adding the shutoffs disable all pumps to prevent fuel flow.

The flames were extinguished in minutes, but significantly damaged one of the gas pumps. The canopy, or roof, above the gas pumps did not catch fire, but was also damaged by smoke and heat, McCullough said.

“They will have to place a pump and inspect the canopy,” he added. “The fire suppression system may or may not have been activated.”

Firefighters used a foam solution injected into water hose lines to surround and encapsulate any fuel and make it less likely to ignite, McCullough said.

Firefighters remained on the scene for about an hour to ensure the fire was out.

“We were there pretty quickly and it was out pretty quickly,” McCullough said.

Catskill Town Code Enforcement Officer Elliot Fishman said staff from his office was at the gas station to inspect equipment after the fire was extinguished.

“We’re doing an initial assessment to determine whether it [the gas station] is structurally safe or not and what kind of safety concerns there are and making sure they [gas station owners] are taking the appropriate action,” Fishman said.

State troopers taped off the gas station to ensure no one attempted to use the pumps.

Before the convenience store can reopen, crews will need to evaluate damage to the pumps and the stability of the overhead canopy above them, Fishman said. The gas station is also required to have its fire extinguishing system inspected.

“If [Northeast] Petroleum [Technology] certifies there is no danger to the pumps in current conditions, they may be able to open and serve non-gas customers,” Fishman said.

To reach reporter Amanda Purcell, call 518-828-1616 ext. 2500, or send an email to apurcell@thedailymail.net, or tweet to @amandajpurcell.