Gas station fire deemed an arson |

Gas station fire deemed an arson

Owner: 'I don't know why anybody would want to do this'

Michelle Balleck

— A fire at a Craig Conoco service station early Thursday morning has been deemed an arson, said Capt. K.C. Hume of Craig Fire/Rescue.

Firefighters were called to the scene, where a small structure behind the station, 140 W. Victory Way, was on fire at about 12:40 a.m.

The structure contained pumps that run the station’s underground ventilation and decontamination system. Station owner Denny Lee said the padlock to the building was broken, but he could not understand why anyone would want to break into the structure.

“There’s absolutely nothing in there that anybody would want,” Lee said.

The fire marks the third incident at the station in six-and-a-half weeks.

Police were called to the scene for a dumpster fire June 3 and a broken window July 15. The dumpster fire, during which the padlock to the small building was also broken off, was deemed arson. Capt. Jerry DeLong of the Craig Police Department said officers are unsure if the broken window was an act of vandalism or if it was caused by strong winds.

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“It definitely appears : that business has been a target,” DeLong said. “At this point in time, we don’t know who’s doing it.”

He said the department has no leads or much evidence – no matches or lighters were found at the scene. And Hume could not release details of the arson investigation.

“The fire was suspicious in nature,” Hume said. “And once we determine the origin of the fire and the cause is arson, we turn it over to law enforcement. It becomes a criminal matter.”

DeLong said arson is not a common call for the Police Department, and he hopes the trend does not continue.

“I hope that kids are not doing this to have fun,” DeLong said.

Lee said he does not have any idea who could want to hurt him or his business.

“To my knowledge, I haven’t made anybody mad,” Lee said. “So I don’t know why anybody would want to do this to me.

“I feel like I’m a nice guy. So why would anybody be targeting me?”

Now Lee is left to wait and see how much damage there is to the equipment housed in the building, collectively worth between $10,000 and $15,000. He is unsure if his insurance will cover the equipment or only the building housing it.

Lee said he believes one pump is salvageable while he is unsure about the other. Even if he can fix the pumps, he said the repair costs could be hefty.

Michelle Perry can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 213, or

Keep an eye out

The Craig Police Department asks community members to call 824-8111 if they witness suspicious activity or have any information on the arsons or possible vandalism at the Craig Conoco station.