Hummer with four cans of gasoline bursts into flames amid panic buying of fuel

Vehicle fire comes as Biden administration works to reassure drivers worried about gas shortages after pipeline shutdown caused by hackers

Gustaf Kilander
Washington, DC
@GustafKilander
Thursday 13 May 2021 21:19
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Related video: Some Central Florida gas stations run out of fuel

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A Hummer carrying four cans of gasoline burst into flames after filling up at a gas station in Citrus County north of Tampa, Florida.

Fire Rescue crews were called to the scene shortly before 11am on Wednesday. When they arrived, they found the 2004 Hummer H2 on fire.

A spokesperson for Citrus County Fire Rescue, the driver had just filled up four five-gallon canisters (19L each), which were later found in the back of the vehicle by firefighters.

The fire was extinguished at 11.09am, 10 minutes after the arrival of the fire crew.

WFLA reported that one person was injured but rejected transport for treatment, going against medical guidance. The kind and severity of the injury were not divulged.

A Hummer carrying four cans of gas burst into flames just after filling up north of Tampa, Florida on 12 May, 2021.

The Florida State Fire Marshal was summoned to conduct an investigation and identify the cause of the fire. Cleanup of the fuel spill was coordinated with the help of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

The vehicle fire comes as the Biden Administration is rushing to reassure drivers after a cyberattack by ransom-seeking hackers last week shut down the Colonial Pipeline, which transports around 45 per cent of the East Coast’s gas.

Panicked drivers have been hoarding gas amid higher fuel prices and long lines at gas stations.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg issued a warning on Wednesday at the White House, advising Americans not to fill plastic bags with gasoline.

“I will say that this is a time to be sensible and to be safe, of course we understand the concern in areas where people are encountering temporary supply disruptions, but hoarding does not make things better,” Mr Buttigieg said.

“And under no circumstances should gasoline ever be put into anything but a vehicle directly or an approved container, and that of course remains true no matter what else is going on,” he added.

American Automobile Association officials have urged Tampa residents concerned over fuel shortages not to panic buy gasoline.

“It’s likely that motorists are seeing reports about supply issues in other states due to the pipeline, and are racing out to top off their tanks,” AAA spokesperson Mark Jenkins told WFLA.

“The problem is, that surge in demand is what actually creates the supply issue, since gas stations can only hold so much fuel at a given time,” he added.

Florida isn’t relying on the Colonial Pipeline to the same extent as some other states. According to AAA, 90 per cent of Florida’s gas is delivered on cargo ships to the state’s ports.

“This is not a refinery issue. Gasoline is still being made and fuel continues sailing through Florida ports, regardless of whether the Colonial Pipeline is operational,” Mr Jenkins said.

“Florida is said to have access to plenty of gasoline. It’s now just a matter of getting the fuel where it’s needed, primarily those gas stations that are being tapped out due to panic buying.”

According to a statement from the Colonial Pipeline Company, they “initiated the restart of pipeline operations” at around 5pm on Wednesday.

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