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Gas for 39 cents causes run on Santa Rosa station

A computer glitch at a 76 station in Roseland inadvertently put gasoline on sale for a reported 39 cents a gallon Thursday night and created a rush of drivers trying to fill up on the cheap.

Sonoma County sheriff's deputies and CHP officers responded before 8 p.m. to a traffic jam that spilled out of the station and into the intersection of Dutton Avenue and Sebastopol Road in Santa Rosa.

"It became a blockade," said Sheriff's Sgt. Kevin Scanlon. He compared the scene to the long gas lines during the world energy crisis of 1979.

He was told the customers had been filling up for 39 cents a gallon.

With gasoline in Santa Rosa averaging $3.36 a gallon earlier this month, word of the cheap petrol spread quickly, apparently aided by cell phones and other mobile devices. A man in a dark sedan who arrived too late told Scanlon, "My son called me up and told me."

Squad cars blocked the entrances to keep new vehicles from entering the station. Scanlon said the station would close for the night so that the staff could get the computer fixed.

It was not clear how long the rush continued nor how much gasoline was sold at the low price. A station employee declined comment.

— Robert Digitale


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