Looking to make a profit, the owner of an Elmont gas station created a potentially dangerous situation at a competitor's pump in West Hempstead on Monday.
Husnu Altibas, 56, was spotted at the Hess Station on Hempstead Turnpike in West Hempstead around 4:45 p.m. on Monday, filling up 15 spackle buckets with kerosene, according to the Nassau County Fire Marshal's Office.
Supervising Fire Marshal Michael Mennella and a HAZMAT team were called to the scene and arrived within 15 minutes to find Altibas pumping the fuel into the 5-gallon buckets lined up near his Honda Civic.
A source at the scene said Altibas, who owns a station located at 245 Linden Boulevard in Elmont, indicated that he planned to sell the kerosene as diesel fuel at his pump since it was 33 cents cheaper.
"It would certainly be illegal and dangerous to mislabel a product in such a way," said Vincent McManus, a spokesman for the Fire Marshal's Office.
The bigger problem though was the means in which Altibas planned to transport the flammable fluids. If officials had not stopped him, he would have loaded the buckets into his Honda Civic and driven them to his station.
"It was definitely a dangerous situation," McManus said. "We're very fortunate that people at the station thought to call."
McManus said even though Altibas had lids for the containers, "spackle buckets are not designed to transport flammable liquid."
The Fire Marshal's Office has charged Altibas with one count of spilling a flammable liquid and 15 counts of transporting a flammable liquid in an unapproved container. He was scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday in First District Court in West Hempstead.
McManus said that authorities were relieved when they learned that Altibas was driven by profits and not plans to create violence or chaos.
"Naturally with someone looking to utilize and transport this amount of fuel, it certainly sent up some red flags," he said. "Nowadays, you have to realize that people might do this with intention to harm someone, but fortunately, that was not the case."