Rumor of a rupture in the fuel pipeline from Tucson touched off fears of another gas crisis Wednesday, sending alarmed Valley motorists racing to the nearest pump.
Jeanine L'Ecuyer, a spokeswoman for the Arizona governor’s office, said the rumor was not true. There were no breaks in the 48-year-old pipeline owned by Kinder Morgan Energy Partners.
Word of a break started spreading about 3 p.m. after an unidentified Valley police agency told its their officers to fill up, L'Ecuyer said.
L'Ecuyer also said there were reports that some gas stations were using the rumor to bump up fuel prices. Those reports could not be confirmed.
Kris Mayes, a member of the Arizona Corporation Commission, said state officials were working to track down where the rumor started.
This is the second time in a week that rumors spread about a disruption in the fuel supply. Kinder Morgan reported a small leak Friday. Michael Freeland, a clerk at QuikTrip at Arizona Avenue and Warner Road in Chandler, said customers have been talking about a break in the line through the week.
“Tonight somebody came in and said they heard it on the news, and all of the sudden, everybody was here,” Freeland said. He added that the lines started about 8 p.m. and died down about 10:15 p.m. after motorists discovered the rumor it was untrue.
Aaron Arrieta, who waited Wednesday night for gas at a Circle K near University and Stapley drives in Mesa, said he decided to jump in line when he saw cars backing up.
“I don't know what's going on, but I’m going to fill up,” he said.
A clerk at the Texaco station at 1957 N. Country Club Drive in Mesa said she had seen a 20 percent increase in traffic from 9 to 10 p.m.
"People have been freaking out, but it's not true," said Raidene Garcia.
One customer at the Texaco station who was filling up for gas said he had heard the rumor on the radio, but "I looked on the Internet and it said it wasn't true."
However, for most of the gas stations throughout the Valley, it was business as usual.
When Bill Parks didn't see lines forming at a station near Arizona and Guadalupe avenues in Mesa, he thought he got lucky.
“I figured I caught it ahead of the lines," he said.
After a July 30 rupture in the pipeline that spilled 10,000 gallons of gasoline headed for Phoenix, Valley motorists waited in lines for hours and gas prices spiked.
Kinder Morgan operates two pipelines in Arizona. The one that was rumored to have broken originates in El Paso, Texas, and runs through Tucson before delivering 30 percent of the Valley's gas supply to a West Valley receiving station. A line from Los Angeles normally delivers 70 percent of the Valley's gas; it has been increased to 85 percent.