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Fuel Frenzy Fades In Mountains, Stations Impacted

Davin Eldridge
Gasoline prices throughout Western North Carolina have shot up approximately 30 cents since a fuel pipeline supplying most of the southeastern U.S. ruptured earlier this month in Alabama.

Once news of a ruptured gasoline pipeline in Alabama broke earlier this month, people throughout the southeastern United States immediately rushed out to their local gas stations to stock up. More than 250,000 gallons of fuel is estimated to have been leaked, and the panic that ensued from the incident caused fuel shortages at many area gas stations—and Western North Carolina was by no means immune to the shortages, nor the public’s response to it.

But the public’s recent fuel frenzy has been good for business, according to Justin Mathis, a manager of Jackson County’s SAR Exxon, in downtown Sylva.

A map of the pipeline that ruptured in Alabama earlier this month.

“We’ve definitely seen a huge increase in the business. A lot of people coming by, a lot of people asking if we have gas. The price has gone up and down over the past week, like we were up all the way to $2.29 and then went back all the way down to $2.15.”

But Mathis doesn’t attribute the surge in sales to their recent listing as lowest in the county by Gasbuddy, and says the public may be somewhat overreacting.

“People are just panicking right now, and they’re just going for whatever gas they can get, so we were able to lower our prices. We had gas the whole time. It did start getting low because everyone was coming out and filling up all their vehicles with the gas.”

But at another Exxon station just a few miles around the corner, fellow manager Brooklyn Hensley says the gas shortage has had a noticeable impact on sales at her store—which, for the record, did not make the list on Gasbuddy.com.

“Definitely the amount of people that come in our store, we’ve not had as much service or anything like that.” Hensley said that there was a brief shortage of fuel, although it “wasn’t bad enough to where it was something to freak out about.”

Gas prices are expected to fall back to normal levels, once the line is repaired, according to reports. The average price of gasoline in North Carolina, according to website Gasbuddy.com, is $2.21, while the lowest is $1.99, and the highest is $3.

As of Sunday, Gasbuddy.com reports that the lowest price for gas is $2.19 in Swain County, $2.07 in Jackson County, $2.21 in Macon County, $2.16 in Haywood County, and $2.11 in Buncombe County.

For WCQS News, I’m Davin Eldridge.

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