A QUICK-THINKING teenager helped put out a fire outside a petrol station before helping detain a would-be robber believed to have started the blaze.
Teenager Brad Harrington and several other customers at the Warren Service Station in Easington Road, Hartlepool, managed to snare the would-be robber as staff “locked down” the garage until police arrived to arrest him.
The drama unfolded when people at the petrol station saw a fire had started at the side of the garage.
Witnesses say while customers and a member of staff were putting out a fire at the side of the garage, the man tried to make a lunge at the cash register until customer Sarah Thorpe and a member of staff stopped him in his tracks.
The people using the garage at the time believe the man was responsible for starting the fire to create a diversion so he could rob the premises.
Brad, 18, from West Park, was filling up his mum Yvonne’s car with petrol he noticed the smoke.
The former English Martyrs schoolboy said: “I got the fire extinguisher and ran to put the fire out and another man joined me. As I was coming back my mam shouted that the man was trying to rob the shop, I looked up and could see him putting his hand in the till.”
Brad and another male customer, ran into the shop where paramedic Sarah and the female shop assistant were aiming to tackle the man.
The teenager said: “It all happened so quickly. It was just instinct to put the fire out and to try to stop the robbery.”
Paramedic Sarah, 38, said: “I was filling up the car when we all started to notice the flames and smoke from the side. They immediately shut off the pumps and one of the members of staff and a couple of guys from the forecourt grabbed the fire extinguishers and went to put the fire out.
“I went in to pay for my petrol and I realised the guy in front of me was trying to get money from the till. I just grabbed his arm and the girl was trying to shut the till.
“She pressed the panic button and the place was locked down.”
Sarah, who lives at the marina, said: “It was just automatic reaction I suppose to try and stop him, it wasn’t until after I thought about how he could have had a knife or gun or something.
“It was a very strange experience and me and the girls in the shop were shaking afterwards.”
Also on the scene was Shaun Sanderson, 42, of Hartlepool’s King Oswy area, who helped to put out the fire.
The Nissan worker said: “The staff were fantastic and dealt with the whole incident very calmly. It was lucky it turned out the way it did, it could have been a hell of a lot worse. The fire was quite well away.”
The drama unfolded at about 6.50pm on Tuesday at the busy service station and firefighters and police were quickly on the scene.
A spokesman for Shell, which owns the service station, said: “Shell is aware of an incident at Shell Warren and is co-operating with the police in its enquires. Shell Warren has reopened and is serving customers.”
• A 42-year-old man has now been charged with arson with intent to endanger life, robbery and theft following the incident at the Shell station. He has been bailed to attend court later this month.