02:48 - Source: CNNBusiness
Panic buying is emptying gas pumps across the Southeast
Washington, DC CNN Business —  

The US Consumer Product Safety Commission warned Americans Wednesday not to fill plastic bags with gasoline as a fuel shortage strikes the East Coast.

The Colonial Pipeline, which transports about 45% of the fuel consumed on the East Coast, has been shut down since Friday following a ransomware attack.

Gas stations have fuel outages in 11 states and the District of Columbia, according to GasBuddy, which uses crowd-sourced data to track fuel demand and prices. In North Carolina, 65% of stations have outages and in Virginia, 44%, according to GasBuddy data published Wednesday afternoon.

Images have surfaced on social media recently of drivers using nontraditional containers to store gasoline.

“When people get desperate they stop thinking clearly. They take risks that can have deadly consequences,” the US Consumer Product Safety Commission said in a follow-up tweet. It also advised consumers to alert anyone they know who plans to bring a container not meant for fuel to get gas of the dangers.

Some viral images have appeared to show gasoline in plastic bags, but they are years old and not connected to the current shortage.

There have also been recent social media images that were taken this week, including drivers filling up rows of gas cans.

Sheetz, which operates gas stations in some of the affected states, told CNN Business in a statement that it’s not limiting purchases but strongly encourages drivers to proceed as normal and avoid panic buying.

“These shortages are not due to supply issues but are a result of extremely high demand causing stores to run out of fuel before the next scheduled delivery,” said Adam Sheetz, executive vice president of operations at Sheetz.

Alexis Benveniste, Matt Egan, and Alisha Ebrahimji contributed to this report.