Cortland man charged in connection with Sunoco gas pump fire

A fuel pump at the Sunoco gas station at 44 Port Watson Street went up in flames Sunday morning after a driver struck the pump (Photo by Mike Pike)

CORTLAND, N.Y. — A Cortland man struck a fuel pump at a local gas station Sunday morning and fled the scene as the fuel station went up in flames, according to the Cortland Police Department.

James A. Moore, 24, of Rickard Street, has been charged with leaving the scene of a property damage accident, a violation, and aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle in the third degree, a misdemeanor. Police tracked down Moore’s vehicle near his home.

Cortland firefighters responded to the Sunoco gas station at 44 Port Watson Street shortly before 11:45 a.m. Sunday.

Dispatchers told the fire department that an errant driver struck the fuel pump—causing it to catch fire—before fleeing the scene.

Surveillance footage shows Moore striking the pump with his vehicle, causing it to fall over and immediately catch fire. It also appears to show Moore getting out of his vehicle and running from the scene.

Before firefighters arrived, the gas station’s dry chemical awning suppression system helped confine the fire to the gas pump. Firefighters arrived shortly thereafter and quickly put out the remaining flames using a dry chemical extinguisher and a 2-inch hose line, according to Cortland Fire Captain David Jensen.

No civilians or firefighters were injured in the incident.

The accident was a result of Moore accidentally hitting the gas pedal instead of the brake pedal, according to Lt. Richard Troyer with the Cortland Police Department. Moore also told police that he fled the scene because he had a suspended driver’s license.

Moore was arraigned on the charges in Cortland City Court and released to appear again on May 18.

The incident was captured by surveillance video: