With her aunt's permission, police say an 11-year-old girl was allowed to get behind the wheel at a West Toledo gas station to inch a car closer to the pump.
But the girl lost control of the vehicle and hit the gas pump, causing both the car and the pump to go up in flames.
Toledo police Lt. Mark King said there was "absolutely" the potential for a more dangerous situation.
"There always is when there's a gas pump on fire," he said.
He said the accident, which occurred late Monday night at True North Shell, 4310 W. Central Ave. at Talmadge Road, could have created drastically worse circumstances if authorities had not stepped in quickly and safety mechanisms on the gas pump had not been up to speed.
Police charged the aunt, Lashawnda Braddy, 28, of 313 Willamont Rd. with misdemeanor child endangering in the incident. She will be arraigned Aug. 3 in Toledo Municipal Court and if convicted, faces up to six months in jail.
A Toledo police report indicates that Ms. Braddy pulled into the Shell station at about 10:43 p.m. Ms. Braddy was unable to stretch the gas nozzle to her tank of her car and asked her niece to drive the vehicle forward so that the nozzle could reach the car, according to the report.
Police said that the child hit the accelerator but lost control of the car and struck the gas pump, igniting a fire.
No one was injured, Lieutenant King said, but "the car was a complete loss and the pump was severely damaged."
The pump was completely lifted off the island, and the concrete pad where it stood was blackened from the fire. Paint on a nearby pole had been burned off and pieces of a burned tire were still on the ground as of Tuesday.
Crews from Oscar W. Larson Co., a fueling-systems services company, were busy repairing the damage Tuesday afternoon and said they hoped to get a couple pumps going by today.
The station's convenience store remained open to customers.
A repairman said that most gasoline dispensers cost anywhere from $12,000 to $18,000 and said that repair costs were in the thousands by Tuesday morning just as a result of labor.
Ms. Braddy could not be reached for comment.
Also at the scene, a 16-year-old was cited for noncompliance with a lawful order after an officer backed into her car while trying to help secure the scene, authorities said.
Officer Chris Zeller of the Ottawa Hills Police Department responded to provide traffic aid and was positioning his car when he hit a vehicle driven by Molly Ann Kristof, 16, of Oregon, resulting in minor damage to both cars.
Lou Kristof, Ms. Kristof's father who witnessed the fire at the scene, said that it looked as though firemen were able to extinguish the flames in a matter of about 3 minutes.
Staff writer Mark Reiter contributed to this report.
Contact Madeline Buxton at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6368.