MONMOUTH — Owners of a convenience store were scrambling Monday to restore service to its gasoline pumps after a snowmobile erupted into a fireball there the day before.

Nobody was hurt in the blaze, but Monmouth Kwik Shop co-owner Kim Willette said her business had taken a hit.

“It’s put us out of the gas system until I can have the suppression system to recharge,” Willette said.

Willette said Tuesday afternoon that the store was approved to resume gasoline sales by 5 p.m., Monday.

“That’s a testament to the great people I have,” she said.

The fire broke out around 3:30 p.m. Sunday after a 15-year-old Monmouth boy stopped at the Kwik Shop, which is at the intersection of Academy Road and Main Street, to top off his 1999 Rambler snowmobile. Monmouth Fire Chief Andre Poulin said either the boy overfilled the machine or it had a fuel leak.

“When he went to start it, it backfired and ignited the snowmobile,” Poulin said.

The boy jumped off the machine as store employees called the Fire Department and tried unsuccessfully to put the fire out with an extinguisher.

“The extinguishing system on the pump island protected the pump,” Poulin said. “It did not extinguish the snowmobile fire.”

Flames reached several feet into the air, damaging the pumps and leaving only a scorched remnant of the snowmobile. Poulin said the snowmobile was not insured.

The boy’s parents picked him up and took the snowmobile away at the same time. The Maine Warden Service was called because the fire involved a snowmobile.

Firefighters also called the state’s Department of Environmental Protection when fuel threatened to make its way to a nearby storm drain. Firefighters secured the spill until state officials arrived.

Willette said an electrician cleared the island lights for use Monday morning, but she was still awaiting a technician to fix the fuel pump and a company to recharge the island fire suppression system. The State Fire Marshal’s Office will have to check the system before it returns to use, Willette said. She hopes to turn the pumps back on today.”I don’t know what the gas technician will find,” Willette said Monday. “I know I have two parts that need to be replaced just from the outside.”

The store remains open, but gasoline is a big draw and customers have come to depend on it, Willette said.

“We work hard to provide them with a decent price in a tough economy,” she said.

Poulin credited Willette’s employees for their response to the fire.

“Her staff did a great job,” he said. “They did everything they’re supposed to do. It shows, because nobody got hurt.”

Craig Crosby — 621-5642

[email protected]

This story was updated at 1:50 p.m., on Jan. 24, 2012 to include the time the gasoline sales resumed.


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