Here’s your daily Autoblog public service announcement: Don’t hoard gasoline, but if you do, absolutely do not let 20 gallons of it catch fire inside your 2004 Hummer H2. You might end up, as a Florida owner learned the hard way, with a very crispy Hummer.
According to CBS affiliate WABI, in Citrus County Fire Rescue was called out to the scene at a Homosassa, Florida, Texaco station yesterday morning. The Hummer owner had just filled four five-gallon jerry cans’ worth of fuel and placed them in the back of the vehicle.
It’s not clear what started the fire, but when emergency crews arrived the SUV was already, as the kids say, fire. The vehicle was a total loss. Photos show it completely singed and missing the hood and windows. One fender sat forlornly on the ground nearby.
One injury was reported, but the individual refused to be taken to the hospital. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection was called in to handle the fuel cleanup.
There’s been a run on gasoline across the eastern seaboard due to a shortage caused by Colonial Pipeline, one of the major refined petroleum pipelines on the East Coast. Due to lax cybersecurity measures, the company fell victim to a ransomware attack, which shut down its operations over the weekend. Hackers based in Russia demanded a payout of $5 million to release control of Colonial Pipeline’s computer systems, and Colonial paid up and has since resumed operations.
Between fires, fights and admonitions by politicians not to hoard — probably one of the few things Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and President Joe Biden agree on — that’s probably good advice to follow. Gas stations should be resupplied in many affected areas within days.
In Tampa, Florida, a third of the city’s gas stations were out of fuel on Thursday. In Miami, outages stood at nearly 40% and growing as residents rapidly filled up their tanks. The outages would make sense if the largest U.S. gasoline pipeline served those cities. But it does not.
South Florida is seeing the worst outages among areas not directly impacted by the line closure.
“If you want a perfect case for where hoarding has made the situation what it is, that’s southern Florida,” said Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy. “They should not be having any issues at all – they get gasoline from a barge.”
Statewide, about a third of gas stations are out of product, according to GasBuddy. Northern parts of Florida, including Tallahassee, Gainesville and Pensacola, are served by the Colonial Pipeline, which runs from Texas to the U.S. Northeast and passes north of the state’s borders. But south of that, gasoline is delivered primarily on vessels by sea. Yet some of the southern cities have more stations out of gasoline than those in the north.
“Every gas station I passed on the way home from work was packed to the gills, all pumps occupied with cars waiting behind them in lines — bizarre,” said Don Bryan, a Fort Lauderdale resident.
Information from Reuters was used in this report. Images via Citrus County Fire Rescue.