Locals line up for gas

With Hurricane Ike bearing down on the Gulf Coast and threatening to disrupt gasoline supplies, hundreds of Augusta area residents found themselves competing to put fuel in their vehicles late Thursday.

Long lines were seen at a number of gas stations, including the Circle K at 226 Georgia Avenue in North Augusta, where there had been a continuous stream of cars since mid-afternoon, clerk Sandra Thomas said.

Overall, customers kept the peace, she said, but a few got out of hand.

"I saw a few arguments, so we called the police," she said.

A block away at Greg's Gas Plus, customers complained that regular grade prices spiked from $3.57 at 4 p.m. to $3.79 three hours later, said Will Huggins, who was filling up his tank.

A clerk at the Shell station at 13th and Ellis streets in downtown Augusta said the station has had warning signs taped to its empty gas tanks since Wednesday morning.

"Our manager said it was because of the hurricane and when we start selling again, it'll cost $1.50 more," said the clerk, who identified herself only as Buffy.

At the Jones Street BP station near the River Watch Parkway entrance, signs on all pumps asked customers to limit their purchases to 10 gallons per customer.

Longtime Augusta resident and BP customer Moses Reades, 69, said he's skeptical of the entire situation.

"They've got plenty of gas -- it's an alibi to get more profits," he said. "They'll tell us anything. I blame it all on George Bush."

Reach Timothy Cox at (706) 823-3217 or tim.cox@augustachronicle.com.