A 17-year-old male accidentally started a gasoline fire that caused more than $10,000 of damage at the Exxon station outside Foodstop yesterday afternoon.
Hanover Police Officer John Kapusta said the suspect caused the fire by igniting gasoline fumes with a cigarette lighter.
Kapusta said he can not release the name of the 17 year old until completion of the case because of the suspect's juvenile status.
Kapusta said he doubted the fire was intentional.
Fire Chief Roger Bradley said the fire was immediately extinguished by Foodstop's automated heat-detecting safety equipment.
Bradley said the firefighters covered the entire gas station with dry white bicarbonate soda powder to put out the flames.
Kapusta said nobody was burned during the incident but a female passenger in one of the two vehicles at the station hurt her hand when her husband pulled her from the driver side of their car. The woman was examined by an Hanover ambulance crew.
Kapusta said the 17-year old male was playing with a cigarette lighter near a Jeep Cherokee owned by Sarah Schlein, a 16-year old resident of Hartford, Vt. Both Schlein and the suspect attend Hanover High School.
Bradley said Schlein, who is acquainted with the suspect, was "gassing up [her] vehicle when [boy] came up and flicked a cigarette lighter and started the fire."
"It was out by the time we [the fire department] arrived here," he added.
No charges have been filed yet but "they will probably be forthcoming in the near future," Kapusta said.
Kapusta said the 17-year old male will probably be charged with reckless conduct -- a misdemeanor.
The 17-year old male could alternatively be charged with criminal mischief, which is a misdemeanor, but could be expanded to a felony if anyone at the station was injured. If the fire was intentional, the suspect could be charged with arson.
The pump that Schlein was using was melted and white powder covers the entire station. By press time, the station was still closed for cleaning and repairs.
Foodstop owner Sean Molloy said Foodstop shut off gas and all power when the fire started and called the fire department.
"We are currently not pumping gas at this moment," Molloy said. "We are just taking the necessary precautions to make sure everything is back in working order before we move on it."
Molloy said all operations would be back in order by this morning.
Molloy said a fire has never before occurred in the eight years Foodstop has been open in Hanover.
"I am very impressed with our safety equipment," he said. "We have never had that kind of incident before."