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Police: Car catches fire during pursuit because driver was ‘hoarding’ gas

Multiple containers of fuel that the driver was carrying served as a ‘catalyst of the explosions,’ police said


By Mark Price
The Charlotte Observer

PICKENS COUNTY, S.C. — A South Carolina woman caught fire during a police chase Thursday after multiple containers of gasoline exploded in the back of her car, officials said.

The woman, identified as 28-year-old Jessica Dale Patterson, was taken to a hospital, the Pickens County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release. Her condition has not been released.

“Before leaving the scene, Ms. Patterson told deputies that she was transporting several containers of fuel that she was hoarding in the trunk,” officials said. “These containers of fuel were the catalyst of the explosions.”

A gas shortage has gripped the Southeast after Colonial Pipeline — a major fuel supplier — announced last weekend it was temporarily shutting down operations due to a cyberattack.

The company has said gas is flowing again, but experts, who blamed panic-buying and hoarding for the initial shortage, predict it could take days before supplies return to normal.

Patterson was driving a 2007 Pontiac G6 near the town of Pickens when deputies began following her after determining the vehicle’s license plate had been reported stolen, officials said. Pickens is about 20 miles east of Greenville, in the upstate of South Carolina.

Officials say the Patterson “accelerated the vehicle in an attempt to elude law enforcement,” and a brief chase ended when she lost control of the car, ran off the road and flipped.

“The vehicle immediately caught fire and multiple explosions were heard inside,” according to the sheriff’s office.

“As the deputy approached the vehicle, the driver … exited the vehicle and was observed to be on fire. The deputy pushed Ms. Patterson to the ground in order to put out the flames.”

The S.C. Highway Patrol is investigating the crash, officials said. Deputies did not say if Patterson is facing charges.

The crash happened one day after authorities in Citrus County, Florida, said a 2004 Hummer carrying containers of gas “burst into flames” at a gas station, The Miami Herald reported. One person was hurt, but declined to be taken to a hospital, the station said.

(c)2021 The Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, N.C.)

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