VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – April 15, 2022 – “Thank you, gas man,” were the words Darrel Wenzel heard as he drove away from a local gas station in Hampton, Virginia, after recently helping to extinguish a car on fire.
“Those were some of the best words I could hear after just doing what came natural to me,” said Wenzel, an Asset Protection specialist with Virginia Natural Gas. “I knew I just had to help.”
Wenzel was returning to the office after finishing a project, when he stopped at a traffic light at the corner of West Mercury Blvd. and Seldendale Dr. and noticed a car sitting at a gas station with smoke coming out from under the hood. It appeared that it wasn’t just overheated due to the color of the smoke, so he turned into the parking lot to offer any assistance he could.
Parking upwind from the car, he ran over and tried to investigate the smoke-filled car and attempted to open the door with no success.
“When I couldn’t open any doors, my biggest concern was for whoever the driver was and the fact it was parked next to the gas pumps,” said Wenzel. “At that point I yelled over to the crowd of folks in front of the store to ask who owned the car and was everyone out?”
According to Wenzel, a woman yelled at him that it was her car, and everyone had gotten out. She confirmed it was on fire and had contacted 911. Grabbing the small fire extinguisher in his truck, he completely emptied it on the fire with little results. He then ran to the emergency pump shut-off button, yelling to the store clerk to also shut down all the pumps because of a fire.
“The clerk was not even aware of what was taking place, and one of the other customers tried to assist me with his larger extinguisher however he had never used one and didn’t pull the pin,” Wenzel said. “He handed it to me, and we continued to try to put the fire out.”
They went through seven extinguishers, and realized, although a valiant effort, the flames had reached the windshield from under the hood of the vehicle and were quickly becoming out of control.
“It was at this point we knew we did all that we could and just needed to stop and wait for first responders.” added Wenzel. “My major concern was for the safety of those around me and the driver of the vehicle. Even though we couldn’t completely put out the fire, we at least kept it from spreading and kept people safe in the process.”
Seconds later, the Hampton Fire and Police Departments arrived and finished putting out the fire. Once he noticed everyone was safe, Wenzel got back in his truck, and continued back to work.
“We are taught that safety is paramount in everything we do and for those around us,” said Wenzel. “I’m just glad I was in the right place at the right time to offer any help I could.”
And what about that loud, “thank you, gas man,” he heard as he drove away?
“It definitely put a smile on my face and made my day!”
About Virginia Natural Gas
Virginia Natural Gas is one of four natural gas distribution companies of Southern Company Gas, a wholly owned subsidiary of Southern Company (NYSE: SO). Virginia Natural Gas provides clean, safe, reliable and affordable natural gas service to more than 300,000 residential, commercial and industrial customers in southeast Virginia. Consistently ranked in the top quartile for customer satisfaction by J.D. Power and Associates, the company also has been recognized by the Virginia Department of Energy and the Virginia Oil and Gas Association for its safety, innovation, environmental stewardship, community outreach and educational programs, and has been named Local Distribution Company of the Year five times since 2015. The company has been ranked by its business customers as one of the most Trusted Business Partners in the utility industry according to Cogent Reports, and as a Top Workplace in Hampton Roads by Inside Business. For more information, visit virginianaturalgas.com and connect with the company on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Nextdoor.
About Southern Company Gas
Southern Company Gas is a wholly owned subsidiary of Atlanta-based Southern Company (NYSE:SO), America’s premier energy company. Southern Company Gas serves approximately 4.3 million natural gas utility customers through its regulated distribution companies in four states with approximately 666,000 retail customers through its companies that market natural gas. Other nonutility businesses include investments in interstate pipelines and ownership and operation of natural gas storage facilities. For more information, visit southerncompanygas.com.