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First responders have fuel to respond to calls

Cars stack up to get gas at the Marathon station on Greenville Highway. Cars stack up to get gas at the Marathon station on Greenville Highway.

Emergency responders don't expect problems responding to calls even as panic buying has depleted gasoline supplies and caused long lines at filling stations across Henderson County.

“Clearly, because of the panic buying, we’re seeing shortages here locally," Emergency Services Director Jimmy Brissie said, "but we have contingency plans here locally for the county and the state has contingency plans as well that we can pull upon if other emergency response agencies have needs. We’ve always encouraged our first responder partners to work out arrangements with their fuel providers to have some reserve on hand and most of them do."

"Locally we don’t anticipate any impact on the providing of emergency services. We have implemented some conservation measures for county staff to follow and we’re doing that as well as emergency responders but it will not affect emergency response."

Henderson County has not seen the need to declare a state of emergency. Gov. Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency Monday.

"What that does is allow the state to suspend certain motor carrier laws allowing the drivers to carry heavier loads over longer times," Brissie said. "Everything I’m reading indicates they will have the situation resolved by the weekend. It’s a transport issue not a supply issue."

He urged people to get the fuel they need and not hoard.

“Truthfully had there not been some panic buying probably nobody would have noticed it," he said. "Clearly if folks have a need, fill that need but what happens when folks overpurchase, if you typical buy 15 gallons a week and you’ve bought 40 gallons the system isn’t equipped to handle that purchase. I would just encourage folks to purchase what they need to get by for the next 3 to 5 days."

The sheriff's office, too, has imposed some measures to conserve fuels while not compromising the ability to respond to calls for service, Maj. Frank Stout said.

"We have implemented some conservation strategies for the sheriff's office," he said. "We are making prep to ensure thst we have enough fuel to get through these times and we're also giving some of our folks the ability to work from home that will help them out as well. We are in close with the emergency management director and county manager's office and so we will ensure that our emergency vehicles are still able to respond to calls for service and have the fuel to do so."

North Carolina’s price gouging law is in effect after Gov. Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency Monday in response to The shortage was caused by the temporary shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline, caused by a ransomware cyberattack last weekend. A day after Cooper declared the state of emergency, Attorney General Josh Stein warned that his office would investigate and potentially prosecute price gougers.

“The hackers who breached Colonial Pipeline’s systems have made it harder for hardworking North Carolinians to go about their lives, but I will not allow businesses to take advantage of this incident to charge excessive prices,” he said. “North Carolina’s price gouging law is in effect – please let my office know if businesses or people might be trying to profit off this situation so we can hold them accountable.”

North Carolina’s law against price gouging, or charging too much in times of a crisis, goes into effect when the governor declares a state of emergency. In some cases, businesses and industries that are heavily impacted by the incident causing the state of emergency have a reasonable need to increase prices in order to resupply, but they should disclose these increases and allow people to make informed purchasing decisions. Businesses cannot, however, unreasonably raise the price of goods or services to profit from a state of emergency.

Please report potential price gouging by calling 1-877-5-NO-SCAM or by filing a complaint at Our office reviews price gouging complaints closely and Attorney General Stein is prepared to take action against any person or business engaging in price gouging.

Since 2018, Attorney General Stein has brought nine lawsuits against 25 defendants under North Carolina’s price gouging statute. He has obtained nine judgments against 18 defendants, including a $274,000 settlement that was the largest price gouging settlement in the department’s history. DOJ has won more than $975,000 in these judgments and settlements.