A major disaster was averted after a man intentionally set a fire at a Sullivan County gas station.

On Saturday September 29, 2018 at approximately 1:30 p.m. emergency personnel responded to the Sunoco Country Store located at 5 Center Street in the Village of Jeffersonville for the report of a fire.

The fire had originated in a propane fuel tank line in the rear of the building. When firefighters arrived the fire was out, but the gas line was still leaking.

An investigation by Sullivan County Bureau of Fire Investigators revealed that the propane tank fuel line had been intentionally damaged and the leaking gas had been intentionally ignited.

The fire had been put out just moments before firefighters arrived by a good Samaritan who used a fire extinguisher from inside the store.

Sheriff Mike Schiff said:

The scene was still dangerous when the fire department arrived as gas was still leaking. The fire had damaged an 8 foot by 10 foot section of the outside wall. The good Samaritan, Craig Lanese of Jeffersonville, who is a regular customer at the Sunoco Country Store is a hero. He held it down until the fire department could get there and turn off the tanks. A major disaster was averted

The investigation led sheriffs to Jacques A. Pluss, 65, of Kenoza Lake, who they believe damaged the fuel tank line and then set the leaking gas on fire.

Pluss was caught on video surveillance walking behind the building just prior to the incident. Pluss was arrested in October 12, and charged with felony Arson second-degree.

He was arraigned and remanded to Sullivan County Jail in lieu of $25,000 cash bail. He is scheduled to return to court this week.

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