Police are looking for two men who were captured on video throwing a device that caused a fiery explosion at a Northeast Philadelphia gas station.
The explosion inside the store of the Express Fuel station at 6300 Frankford Ave., in the Mayfair neighborhood, happened around 11:50 p.m. July 19, Philadelphia Police Department Lt. Dennis Rosenbaum said.
"That just totally endangered the lives of those employees, some of the customers that were outside. Anything could've happened in that situation," the lieutenant said.
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Surveillance video shows one of the men prop open the door of the store as the second man lights a fuse and tosses the device inside. The men run away. Moments later, the device explodes, releasing a fireball that consumes the entire front half of the store.
Two potato chip racks then catch fire, releasing smoke and flames that stretch to the ceiling. An employee rushes to push the racks out of the store before the entire building can catch fire.
Given the fact that there were gas pumps right outside, things could have been much worse, Rosenbaum said, adding that the employees avoided injury only thanks to the bulletproof glass behind which they were standing when the explosion went off.
The device used in the blast appeared to have been homemade, making it illegal, Rosenbaum said. "They're very dangerous devises. They're unpredictable," he said.
Mamraj Singh, who owns the store, told NBC10 that he and his employees have had problems with the suspects before. They personally threatened him three times, he said.
According to Rosenbaum, the ongoing dispute may have been what motivated the men to set off the blast. Right before the incident, they were arguing with employees before walking out with unpaid items, he said.
Detectives believe the men live in the area. Both face felony arson, aggravated assault and related charges, Rosenbaum said.
Anyone with information is asked to call the PPD Northeast Detective Division at 215-686-3153/3154. People can also submit anonymous tips by calling 215-686-8477 or texting 773847.