Gas rumor full of hot air

September 03, 2005|By ANDREW SCHOTZ


A false rumor that Maryland's gas stations would shut down Friday briefly caused extra traffic at the pumps, including some in Washington County.

The rumor was so persistent and widespread, Gov. Robert Ehrlich issued a statement and called a press conference to debunk it.

"Marylanders can ignore the rumor that the State is closing down gas stations today, or any other day," Ehrlich's written statement said. "The rumor is absolutely and entirely untrue. Marylanders should continue to lead their everyday lives, while being mindful to conserve energy when appropriate.


"We are already taking the precautionary steps to help ensure every Marylander has access to adequate supplies of gasoline. Again, continue leading your everyday lives, conserve energy when appropriate, and enjoy the holiday weekend."

Similar rumors circulated in Virginia, Georgia, North Carolina and Delaware, according to news Web sites in those states.

One false Virginia rumor said the state ordered gas stations to stop selling gas Friday at 2 p.m. Another said stations were told to close for the weekend.

Gas stations in Georgia were said to be closing at either 3 p.m. or 4 p.m., according to false rumors there. Another said the governor was going to tell gas stations to close at 5 p.m. for three days.

A false rumor that moved through Maryland gave Friday at 4 p.m. as the shutdown time. That led to a small swell of gas-buying Friday at some Washington County gas stations.

Yogesh Patel, who owns a Sunoco on Dual Highway, said customers told him gas stations were closing - sweeping toward Washington County from the Washington, D.C., suburbs - but he hadn't heard that.

During the afternoon, "we were getting pounded" with customers, he said.

At the AC&T at Dual Highway and Edgewood Drive, phone calls about the supposed shutdown started about 3 p.m., employee Linda Frazier said.

As 4 p.m. came, the parking lot wasn't mobbed, but there were small lines at the pumps.

"Usually, we're busy, but not that busy," Frazier said.

A man standing in line at the register overheard Frazier talking about the rumor.

"It's not true?" he asked.

Some customers pumping gas then said they heard the rumor through friends or radio stations, but didn't believe it.

David Grimsley of Hagerstown said he was at the station only because the gas gauge on his Ford Ranger pickup truck was on E for empty.

Vince French's timing was coincidental, too. French, who works at Younger Toyota, was filling up the tank of a Toyota Tundra someone just bought.

Henry Fawell, a spokesman for Ehrlich, said the state doesn't know the origin of the rumor.

The Herald-Mail Articles