Safety warning as panic-buying of fuel continues

Motorists queueing for petrol at the Sainsbury's store at Farlington
Motorists queueing for petrol at the Sainsbury's store at Farlington
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FIRE officials have issued a safety warning after a panic-buying motorist tried to fill a milk bottle with petrol.

Firefighters said people risked their lives if they tried to take fuel away from pumps in unsuitable containers.

It came as several petrol stations in the area ran dry because motorists continued to stock up – despite reassurances that a feared strike by tanker drivers would not take place over Easter.

The motorist who sparked the safety fears filled up his car at BP All Saints, in Commercial Road, Landport, yesterday morning – and then tried to put fuel in a two-litre plastic milk container.

An employee managed to shut down the pump before any petrol came out and ordered the man to put the container away.

The employee, who did not want to be named, said: ‘There was no way I was going to let him get away with putting petrol in a plastic container. I shut down the pump and went outside to tell him that it was wrong. He didn’t say anything but you could tell he wasn’t very happy about it.’

Charlie Harris, who is in charge of fire safety at Hampshire Fire and Rescue, said: ‘If people decide to store fuel in containers which are not designed for it then they are putting their lives at risk. It is dangerous and it increases the potential of fire. We advise people to keep containers which are specifically designed for fuel away from houses, people and naked flames. We want people to keep themselves safe.’

Hampshire police were yesterday visiting roads with petrol stations to make sure no problems emerged in fuel queues. Yesterday seven petrol stations out of a total of 15 in Portsmouth stopped selling fuel. The areas affected were Portsmouth Road, Kingston Road, North Harbour, Eastern Road, Commercial Road, Goldsmith Avenue and Green Road. Supplies also dried up at garages in Rowlands Castle, Gosport, Waterlooville, Havant and Titchfield.

One of those closed was Jet service station, in Portsmouth Road, Cosham, which is not expecting a delivery until Tuesday.

An employee at the garage said: ‘The queues have been constant all week.

‘We had to restrict fuel purchases to £20 but we still ran out.’

Yesterday a leaked email from Chris Hunt, director general of the UK Petroleum industry association, described the situation as ‘self-inflicted insanity’.

Unite union members ruled out the possibility of a walkout over the Easter break and said they were keen to resolve the crisis with negotiation.