Fire risk associated with panic buying gasoline

Local News

CHAMPAIGN, IL (WCIA) — We’ve gotten several messages from viewers saying they’re noticing gas shortages at Central Illinois pumps due to a shortage of truckers hauling it here.

Take a look across the country and the strained supply of gasoline has been causing panic buying. Last week, people in the southeast were hoarding gas after a cyberattack on Colonial Pipeline, one of the largest pipelines in the U.S. Needless to say, people were doing it in dangerous ways.

WCIA spoke with an expert in hazardous materials, like gasoline, at the Illinois Fire Service Institute.
The IFSI Hazardous Materials Program Manager Captain Chris Downey says panic buying hasn’t been a huge issue here yet, but it may increase as shortages continue.

The firefighter warns it’s not only an unnecessary hindrance to the supply chain, but it can be dangerous.

The first red flag is the containers he’s seen used on social media. He says gan cans, plastic or metal, are the only safe, regulated method for transporting and storing gas. Otherwise, vapors can leak. If they reach an ignition source, like your car, fires are likely to start. Not to mention, gas can melt or burn through your average plastic container.

That said, even a regulation gas can, can leak. If you notice a leak of any kind, Capt. Downey says you should immediately get away from it.

“If they’re in their vehicle, get off to the side of the road, put their vehicle in park, shut the vehicle off, and then move away from the vehicle,” he added. “Call the fire department. Again they’re trained to deal with that situation whether there’s a fire involved or not.”

Downey says the same goes if a leak happens in your home or garage because even a hot water heater could be an ignition source.

So far the only gas station that WCIA knows of that has run out of fuel is Casey’s in Warrensburg, Illinois. That was last Monday, and they’re now back online.

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