Fighting for gas in Belmont

Waiting for gas in Belmont
A motorist who would not give her name waits in line to get gas at Dale's Bait and Tackle in Belmont on Thursday September 25. Many motorists had been in line at this station for almost an hour, and with the owner of the station predicting that his gas would run out soon, many in line were unsure whether they would be able to purchase gas at all. Below: Just part of the line of cars at Dale's Bait and Tackle that spilled out several hundred yards in both directions.

People were literally fighting for gasoline in Belmont today. Police responded to the Petro Express at HW 74 and N. Main Street around 5:00pm after a fist fight broke out between two motorists waiting to buy gas.

According to Sargent Spry of the Belmont PD, police don't want to ration fuel or restrict access, but when people are fighting in the street and lines are causing traffic backups they have to step in to maintain order. Police were forced to turn motorists away in an effort to ease congestion, and asked that drivers who were not in immediate danger or running out leave.

Within fifteen minutes of arriving, the police had eliminated the traffic congestion, but many were still Left waiting. Several drivers had been in line for over an hour and a half, but some made it to the front of the line only to find station employees putting plastic bags over empty pumps.

The store manager, who declined to give his name, stated that the station had been receiving shipments of gas each morning, but high demand has lead to dry pumps each day this week by about 5:00pm.

Just a few miles down the road, a similar scene was playing out at Dale's Bait and Tackle on HW 74 and Catawba Street where lines stretched several hundred yards down both roads.

While the lines were long, they were moving, and the police never had to be called to this station. The station owner, who would only give his name as Dale, stated that he had been directing traffic all day and keeping the lines moving smoothly.

Dale estimated that he would run out of gasoline later this evening, and wasn't sure when he would get more. When asked if he would ration gas, Dale said no.

With stations running out of gasoline across the region there are many anxious motorists tonight. NC Governor Mike Easley assured the state that more gas was on the way, but with little or no idea when we can expect to see stability in supply, many are still unsure how they will fuel up in coming days.

Right: Dale, owner of Dale's Bait and Tackle, watches the pumps at his station on Highway 74 in Belmont on Thursday.

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