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Officer pulls worker from drive-thru after fire starts at gas station: 'I just told her to run'

Worker: 'She yells... and I look over and the pump is on fire'
Posted at 6:12 PM, Apr 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-16 18:17:07-04

COLONIAL HEIGHTS, Va. -- An officer and an employee are recounting the intense moments when a gas pump went up in flames outside an Exxon convenience store in Colonial Heights.

The fire broke out after a pickup truck backed into a pump Wednesday evening. Within seconds, the pump burst into flames as the pickup drove away.

Inside the convenience store, which is attached to a Burger King fast-food restaurant, a coworker screamed to Shania Reitzel.

“She yells, 'Oh my God, there’s flames,'" Reitzel recalled. "And I look over and the pump is on fire".

With a full parking lot, employees rushed to move customers and evacuate the store.

"It was scary. I was just worried about everybody else here and just worried if it was going to blow up," Reitzel recalled.

At the same time, inside the attached Burger King, an employee was at the drive-thru window as Colonial Heights Police Officer Alex
Riazi arrived.

“I saw one of the gas pumps was engulfed, flame" Riazi said.

That officer also spotted the Burger King worker at the drive-thru.

“[The] manager of the Burger King was trying to help her employee get her out of basically the drive-thru window," Riazi said.

Cellphone video showed the officer running up to the drive-thru where he quickly removed a plexiglass window before pulling the worker through the opening.

“I just told her to just run, go, leave" Riazi said.

For Sunny Singh, who owns the property, seeing the video of Riazi in action for the first time.

“I’m impressed, because he acted very fast and got one of my employees outside," Singh said.

While Riazi was helping at the back of the building, two customers were trying to help out front.

“They both grabbed little fire extinguishers on the pumps and tried to put it out," Reitzel said. "I think it was very brave of them."

While the accident and fire destroyed the gas pump, Singh is relieved no one was injured.

But the fire put all the other gas pumps out of commission.

“Because of the short circuit, it blew up all my pumps, so none of them is working," Singh explained.

For Riazi, it was just another day on patrol.

“Seriously, no, I did not think about it. It's just something natural that anybody would have done. I just happened to be the first one responding," Riazi said. "It’s just what we do."