Men set off explosive, cause fire at Mayfair gas station

Police are investigating after two men threw a homemade firework into a Frankford Avenue gas station following an argument with employees.

Surveillance image provided by Philadelphia police

A Mayfair gas station nearly went up in flames last month after two men threw a homemade firework into the station’s convenience store, police said.

The incident, which occurred just before midnight on July 18 at Express Fuel, 6300 Frankford Ave. (near Robbins Street), stemmed from an argument between the store’s employees and a group of frequent customers, according to Lt. Dennis Rosenbaum of Northeast Detectives.

Employees believed the men were stealing items, and the sides went back-and-forth, Rosenbaum said. As they were leaving, one of the men chucked the explosive, similar to an M-80 or M-1000, into the store while the other suspect held the door open.

The device caused a small explosion, and a potato chip rack caught fire. A store employee acted quickly to get the rack out of the store before the building went up in flames.

“They’re not your regular retail fireworks being sold,” Rosenbaum said at a news conference. “They’re very dangerous devices. They’re unpredictable.” 

No one was injured, police said. In addition to the rack being burned, the ceiling was also damaged.

There has been an ongoing feud between the men and the gas station owner and employees, and the men and their friends have even ventured back to the store since the fire, Rosenbaum said.

Rosenbaum said the men, if caught, would face serious charges, including arson and aggravated assault. He said authorities would even look at charging the suspects with using weapons of mass destruction.

Under state law, using such weapons is classified as a first-degree felony, which carries 10 or more years in prison.

“I don’t know how much more violent you could get,” Rosenbaum said. “They almost set the store on fire.”

The suspects were still on the loose as of Tuesday.

Anyone with information about the suspects or the incident is asked to contact Northeast Detectives at 215-686-3153/3154. Tipsters can remain anonymous. ••