By the time blue smoke began pouring out of her 2011 Toyota Venza, Sharon Yeager already knew something was wrong.
Yeager fueled her car at Spoko Fuel Gas Station on U.S. Highway 2 west of Spokane early Tuesday morning. She was bringing her daughter and granddaughter home from the hospital and just needed enough fuel to get her to Davenport, Wash.
But it wasn’t gasoline she was putting in her gas tank. It was diesel, which made its way into drivers’ cars after a distributor accidentally put diesel in Spoko’s underground gasoline tanks. Yeager said when she called Spoko later in the day, the business confirmed that several customers had filled their gas tanks with diesel.
Employees blocked off the fuel tanks with yellow tape, though the convenience store remained open.
Customers who purchased the wrong fuel at the station should initiate a claim with R.E. Powell Distributing Co, the Grandview, Wash.-based company that provides fuel to the station, according to a news release from the Spokane Tribe, which owns the station.
Yeager, who stopped for gasoline at about 3 a.m., started having car problems when she was on the highway driving home.
“My car just acted a little funny when I left,” Yeager said. “But as I was coming home, I slowed way down to make a turn on Highway 25, and my car quit.”
But she said she was able to restart the car and drive safely home.
“I’m just lucky I made it home,” she said.
When Yeager went to start her car later Tuesday, she tried three times before her engine started smoking.
Jamie Taylor, a dispatcher for Divine’s Tow Trucks, said they towed Yeager’s car to the dealer for repairs. Divine’s also fills stations with gasoline and diesel, and Taylor said putting diesel instead of gasoline in a tank is critical “for drivers not to do.”
Area mechanics also reported several people came to have their cars serviced for running on the wrong fuel.
Yeager isn’t mad at Spoko for the accident. She said Spoko employees handled the situation well by quickly shutting down fueling.
At fault now are the fueling company and the driver who mistakenly put diesel in the underground tank, she said.
“An accident can happen, a mistake can happen, and this fuel company better reach deep in their pockets,” she said.