DAVIE (CBS4) – Davie Police say a man fleeing from a traffic stop smashed into a fuel pump at a gas station and caused a massive blaze that caused two other vehicles to burst into flames.
The scene unfolded at the Chevron station at the corner of Griffin Road and State Road 7 around 5:45 Thursday afternoon.
Video from Chopper 4 showed flames spilling from the vehicles. Witnesses said the driver of a white Mustang — later identified by police as Carlos Puente — crashed into a fuel pump and set his car and two others on fire in a series of explosions that occurred within seconds of impact.
“He caught fire as soon as he hit,” said Zamir Villega, who works at a car wash at the gas station. “His car was on the fire, the engine was on fire, the flames were going like through the bottom of his car.”
The drivers of two Toyota’s, who were on the other side of the fuel pump, managed to flee the flames with little time to spare.
Police said Puente tried to flee the scene, but an officer found him hiding in some nearby bushes.
Witnesses feared the whole gas station would erupt.
“I was terrified,” said Miguel Inoa. “He put a lot of people in danger.”
Left behind were charred cars, singed signs and burnt gas pumps. Fortunately, the damage is being calculated in dollars and not lives.
“Thank God nothing happened to anybody,” Inoa said. “It’s a miracle because it all happened in a split second.”
Davie Police Sgt. Christopher Chastain told reporters that an officer tried to pull Puente over near Oakes Road and State Road 7. The officer noticed that the tag on Puente’s Mustang did not match the vehicle. However, police said Puente made a u-turn and sped off, driving into the gas station to take a shortcut.
That’s when the accident and fire occurred.
“It all could have been avoided if he had stopped originally,” Sgt. Chastain said.
Witnesses on scene speculated that if one of the cars had a child in a car seat or someone who couldn’t get out of the vehicle, there might have been serious injuries or even a fatality.
Puente is being charged with driving on a suspended license and a having a tag not assigned to the vehicle. Davie Police said other charges are pending.
State records show Puente is on probation for causing a DUI crash with serious injuries in 2009.