Fire at the Boron Gas Station

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Late 1940’s Arson Fire at the BORON Gas Station Solved

By Nick Markowitz Jr. Former Carrick Resident

A few years back I had a meeting scheduled with one of my long time clients with whom I do fire alarm and electrical work and I got to meet his elderly father. While I was waiting for my client to finish his business matters I got to talking with his father in the lobby over a hot cup of coffee he had gotten me.

The elderly Irish gentleman asked where I was from and I told him Carrick. It just so happens this is where he was from also and after reminiscing about times and places all over Carrick it ends up we were both in the same Scout troop as well. He then told me a story of when he was a young man in Carrick and was on his way home from a Boy Scout Troop 224 meeting at St Basil Church. With some Boy Scout friends they got into some very serious trouble one cold fall night. At the time he did not know I do fire investigation on the side.

As the story goes one of the boys in the group whose family owned an appliance business now long closed in Carrick, was a braggart show off type always getting into trouble. He decided on a dare from the group to throw a lighted cigarette into some gas which was spilled at the pumps of the local BORON Gas station at East Agnew Avenue and Brownsville Road, currently a BP. Now you have to remember back then oil was kept in refillable glass jars at the pumps and was filled from a bulk tank in the gas station bays.And fuel pumps back then did not have all the safety features they do today. So when this young boy threw the cigarette into the gas he caused a very big commotion from the fire and explosion.

Needless to say the group took off in a big hurry as they all realized they where going to end up at the Morganza School for Boys the Juvenile Detention School. This was a rough and tough place they all knew from stories told to them by other boys who had been in there. The school was located where the now closed Western Center for Mentally Disabled Youth in Canonsburg Pa. was located.

They thought they got away by the skin on their teeth and were several blocks away when all of a sudden Big Jim, the neihborhood beat cop, stopped them. Big Jim was nobody to play games with, but the boys where able to convince him they had been at a scout meeting and where not involved. Big Jim either bought it or thought better of not letting them become hard core juveniles as others had and they were released. Afterwards my friend’s dad learned his lesson that night as did most of his friends who were equally scared to death with their confrontation with Big Jim.

They went on to become successful business men and steel workers who raised their families in and around Carrick and Baldwin. They lived as model citizens the rest of their lives except for the boy who threw the cigarette who seemed to always have trouble in his life. They’re all dead now except for my friend’s dad and as far as I have been able to research it actually happened.

Maybe it was a case of an old man wanting to get something off his chest but at this point it was so long ago memories fade as do times and dates. But it does make for a good story. I do not even think my friend knows what his dad did all those many years ago as well.