‘Do not fill plastic bags with gasoline,’ safety commission warns drivers amid fuel shortage

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(NEXSTAR) – As fuel stations in the East run out of gas amid panic-buying after cyberattackers hit the Colonial Pipeline on Friday, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is reminding drivers just how dangerous improperly stored gas can be.


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“Do not fill plastic bags with gasoline,” the safety commission said in a tweet Wednesday. The reminder comes as images show desperate drivers lining up at the pumps and some hoarding containers full of gas.

The USCPSC urged users to only fill approved containers with gas and shared a video of what can happen when gas hits an open flame:

Flame jetting is a sudden and possibly violent flash fire that can occur when pouring flammable liquids from a container over an exposed flame or other ignition source.

NEVER pour flammable liquids from a container over an exposed flame. pic.twitter.com/HoVuWf1gmt

— US Consumer Product Safety Commission (@USCPSC) May 12, 2021

“We know this sounds simple, but when people get desperate they stop thinking clearly,” the USCPSC tweeted. “They take risks that can have deadly consequences. If you know someone who is thinking about bringing a container not meant for fuel to get gas, please let them know it’s dangerous.”


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While there is currently no gasoline shortage because of the hack, government officials say, panic-buying has caused some stations to run out of fuel. If the Colonial Pipeline, which supplies roughly 45% of the fuel used on the East Coast, isn’t fully reopened by the weekend, analysts say the situation could deteriorate.

“We’re asking people not to hoard, and know that we are all over this,” Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm said Tuesday.

A Colonial Pipeline station is seen, Tuesday, May 11, 2021, in Smyrna, Ga., near Atlanta. Colonial Pipeline, which delivers about 45% of the fuel consumed on the East Coast, halted operations last week after revealing a cyberattack that it said had affected some of its systems. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)
A gasoline station that ran out of gas for sale displays an out of service sign on the pump on Tuesday, May 11, 2021, in Atlanta. Gasoline futures are ticking higher following a cyberextortion attempt on the Colonial Pipeline, a vital U.S. pipeline that carries fuel from the Gulf Coast to the Northeast. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
A QuickTrip connivence store has bags on their pumps as the station has no gas, Tuesday, May 11, 2021, in Kennesaw, Ga. Colonial Pipeline, which delivers about 45% of the fuel consumed on the East Coast, halted operations last week after revealing a cyberattack that it said had affected some of its systems. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)
Numerous vehicles line up for gasoline at Costco on Wendover Avenue in Greensboro, N.C., on Tuesday, May 11, 2021. As the shutdown of a major fuel pipeline entered into its fifth day, efforts are under way to stave off potential fuel shortages, though no widespread disruptions were evident. The Colonial Pipeline, which delivers about 45% of the fuel consumed on the East Coast, was hit by a cyberattack on Friday. (Woody Marshall/News & Record via AP)
A man leaves a Murrphy Oil gas station as pumps are seen out of gas, Tuesday, May 11, 2021, in Kennesaw, Ga. Colonial Pipeline, which delivers about 45% of the fuel consumed on the East Coast, halted operations last week after revealing a cyberattack that it said had affected some of its systems.(AP Photo/Mike Stewart)
Colonial Pipeline storage tanks are seen in Woodbridge, N.J., Monday, May 10, 2021. Gasoline futures are ticking higher following a cyberextortion attempt on the Colonial Pipeline, a vital U.S. pipeline that carries fuel from the Gulf Coast to the Northeast. (AP Photo/Ted Shaffrey)
A company that operates a major U.S. energy pipeline says it was forced to temporarily halt all pipeline operations following a cybersecurity attack.
In this aerial image taken with a drone, numerous vehicles line up for gasoline at Costco on Wendover Avenue in Greensboro, N.C., on Tuesday, May 11, 2021. As the shutdown of a major fuel pipeline entered into its fifth day, efforts are under way to stave off potential fuel shortages, though no widespread disruptions were evident. The Colonial Pipeline, which delivers about 45% of the fuel consumed on the East Coast, was hit by a cyberattack on Friday. (Woody Marshall/News & Record via AP)
A warning sign is posted along the path of the Colonial Pipeline in Garnet Valley, Pa., Monday, May 10, 2021. Gasoline futures are ticking higher following a cyberextortion attempt on the Colonial Pipeline, a vital U.S. pipeline that carries fuel from the Gulf Coast to the Northeast. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
A customer pumps gas at Costco, as a worker directs traffic, on Tuesday, May 11, 2021, in Charlotte, N.C. Colonial Pipeline, which delivers about 45% of the fuel consumed on the East Coast, halted operations last week after revealing a cyberattack that it said had affected some of its systems. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
Drivers fill their tanks at the Speedway in East Ridge, Tenn., on Tuesday, May 11, 2021. The concern over the ransomware attack on the Colonial Pipeline has sparked lines at gas stations and empty pumps in the Chattanooga Area. (Matt Hamilton /Chattanooga Times Free Press via AP)
A customer help pumping gas at Costco, as other wait in line, on Tuesday, May 11, 2021, in Charlotte, N.C. Colonial Pipeline, which delivers about 45% of the fuel consumed on the East Coast, halted operations last week after revealing a cyberattack that it said had affected some of its systems. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

Workers were able to manually restart a large part of the pipeline on Monday, Granholm said, and Colonial Pipeline officials expect most operations to resume by the end of the week.

The governors of Virginia and North Carolina have declared a state of emergency as more gas stations run out of fuel. According to GasBuddy.com, as of Wednesday, 28% of North Carolina gas stations were out of fuel with another 17% in Virginia.

Multiple U.S. agencies are now working to provide alternate fuel transportation strategies, including allowing overweight loads of gasoline on interstate highways. The Department of Homeland Security will also be reviewing temporary waivers of the Jones Act, maritime law mandating that only American-flagged ships can move fuel and other shipments between U.S. ports.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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