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Maryland Fire Marshal speaks out after reports of unsafe handling of gasoline during shortage

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Posted at 9:23 AM, May 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-13 11:47:53-04

BALTIMORE — The Colonial Pipeline cyberattack has caused widespread gas shortages along the southeastern United States and parts of the East Coast including Maryland.

It's caused many gas stations throughout the state to run out of fuel, forcing them to close.

Those still open are experiencing higher gas prices and long lines at the pumps, prompting residents to stock up where they can.

READ MORE: Gas delays shut down pumps, increase cost for Maryland drivers

Some have begun carrying and storing gasoline in an unsafe manner, prompting the Maryland State Fire Marshal to speak out.

"Gasoline should only be placed into a vehicle directly or into an approved container," State Fire Marshal Brian S. Geraci stated. "You're not only endangering yourself but the other drivers around you when you place large quantities of gasoline in containers incorrectly or in unapproved containers. Firefighters and other first responders are also being put into harm's way if you are involved in a motor vehicle accident."

Earlier Wednesday Governor Larry Hogan authorized the Maryland Department of Transportation to take emergency measures, including waiving weight restrictions and hours-of-service requirements for motor carriers.

RELATED: Gov. Hogan authorizes MDOT take emergency measures to respond to Colonial Pipeline incident

Later in the evening, the pipeline was turned back on but officials say it could be days before supply returns to normal.

SEE ALSO: Colonial Pipeline initiates restart of pipeline operations

As of Thursday morning, Gas Buddy reports 34 percent of Maryland gas stations are experiencing fuel outages.

So here are some tips from the fire marshal to keep safe when filling up.

  • Flammable fuels should not be dispensed into portable containers over 6 gallons, and the containers should be listed and approved for the flammable liquid intended for the portable container.
  • Portable containers should have a tight closure with a screwed or spring-loaded cover to prevent spills and vapors from escaping.
  • When transporting gasoline in a portable container, ensure it is secured against tipping and sliding, never leaving it in direct sunlight or the trunk of a car.
  • Flammable fuel should never be dispensed into portable cargo tanks or any other container not listed for flammable liquids.
  • Never fill a container while located in the trunk, passenger area of a car, or the bed of a pickup truck.
  • All containers should be placed on the ground and clear of possible ignition sources such as the exhaust from a vehicle.
  • Fill portable containers slowly to decrease the chance of static electricity buildup and minimize spilling or splattering. Keep the nozzle in contact with the rim of the container opening while refueling. Fill container no more than 95 percent full to allow for expansion.
  • If gasoline spills on the container, make sure that it has evaporated before placing the container in your vehicle. Report spills to the station attendant.
  • Never smoke around flammable fuels.