On Wednesday, May 12, Citrus County Fire Rescue responded to an emergency call about a vehicle up in flames outside of a Citgo gas station in Homosassa, Florida. The vehicle in question was a Hummer H2, which almost burned to the ground after a man attempted to transport four five-gallon containers of gasoline.
In what appears to be an act of panic buying due to the fuel shortage along the East Coast, the occupant managed to escape with non-life-threatening injuries. According to the Citrus County Chronicle, the injured man refused medical attention against EMT advice. The call reporting a vehicle on fire near a Texaco Food Mart at South Alabama Avenue and West Grover Cleveland Boulevard came in at 10:52 a.m. Citrus County Fire Rescue arrived on the scene at 10:59 a.m., extinguishing the engulfed H2 by 11:09 a.m.
Based on the photos released by Citrus County Fire Rescue, the Hummer did not travel too far before catching on fire. How the fire got started in the first place remains unknown. What we can say is that the gas-filled containers that ultimately melted in the Hummer’s cargo area certainly had something to do with it. Although a Reddit post that has since then gone viral claims the driver lit a cigarette, the Florida State Fire Marshal is conducting an investigation and will confirm the cause.
The widely reported news of a gasoline shortage has caused people to panic and line up on the streets around gas stations a la Black Friday sale. Fear of running out of gasoline set in, and the crowds went wild. Many of these individuals have been filling up trash cans, storage bins, plastic bags, and other unsafe containers. Due to the high demand and limited supply, prices at the pump have been skyrocketing.
As most of you are aware by now, a cyberattack on the Colonial Pipeline led to a shut down of services over the weekend. However, there was no need to create a stockpile of gasoline at home as several panic buyers did with toilet paper and hand sanitizer during the pandemic. Colonial Pipeline began to restore the system within days of the gas pipeline shutdown, and the only real issue was people making runs on stations and creating spot shortages before those stations could be restocked.
Furthermore, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission posted a message on Twitter urging panic buyers not to use plastic bags for gasoline. There are dozens of photos spreading online showing people shamelessly filling up inconceivable items and improper containers with fuel. Let’s keep in mind, everyone, that gasoline—and its vapors—are extremely flammable.
The Colonial Pipeline stretches from Texas to New Jersey and does not run across the state of Florida. That in of itself makes this Florida case of gasoline hoarding outright foolish and hilarious. No offense to the H2 driver, but maybe it wasn’t a bright idea after all. In this situation, a quote by author and scholar Dr. Amit Abraham comes to mind: “Common sense has become an uncommon virtue.”
Images via Citrus County Fire Rescue/YouTube.