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Gas panic' jams area stations

By Staff
FILLING UP Lethell Hopson waited in line for gasoline Tuesday after rumors spread that gas prices would skyrocket today. Photo by Paula Merritt/The Meridian Star
By Marianne Todd/The Meridian Star
Sept. 12, 2001
Some local gas suppliers say they expect to see a price increase at the pump today but not enough to cause the widespread panic that jammed Meridian's gas stations on Tuesday and emptied gas supplies.
Rumors quickly spread through the state Tuesday afternoon that gas prices had risen to $4 to $5 a gallon in Tupelo and Columbus. Newspapers in those areas confirmed gas prices remained roughly $1.45 a gallon. Reporters from those newspapers, however, reported hearing the same rumors about each other and about the Meridian area.
David McCall, who said he heard from his daughter who lives in Tupelo that gas there was $3 a gallon, said he fought the lines at the pump because he heard "the gas refineries will be shut down by morning."
L.J. Frug, vice president of of Frug Oil Company, said no one knows yet what will happen. His company had not raised street prices by Tuesday afternoon.
While nothing yet has been confirmed, Mississippi Attorney General Mike Moore said some reports of price gouging had reached his office by Tuesday afternoon, an act that will not go unpunished.
Doug Deweese, Super Stop senior vice president, said gas is expected to increase by 5 cents a gallon today, but he is not sure what could ultimately happen.
Leon Winford fought the chaos at the pump simply because he needed gas.
David Burns, owner of Burns &Burns Inc., an Amoco and Texaco distributor, said he has seen a 20 cent price increase in some areas.
Burns said he has heard of no $4 or $5 per gallon price increases.
Carolyn Webb said the panic was evident at her job at the 22nd Avenue Express Lane, where cars jammed into the store's parking lot in line for gas.
Cars got so backed up at the Highway 19 North Pump &Save, employee William Johnson had to direct traffic.
Marianne Todd is a staff writer for the Meridian Star. Call her at 693-1551, ext. 3236, or e-mail her at mtodd@themeridianstar.com.

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