Skyrocketing gasoline prices caused some local service stations to shut off their pumps Thursday while others shocked customers with overnight price increases of 30 cents or more.
California's fuel industry isn't running out of gasoline — supplies are only 2.5% lower than this time last year — but recent refinery and pipeline mishaps sent wholesale prices to all-time highs this week. As a result, some station owners weren't buying fuel for fear they couldn't sell it. Those who did buy simply kicked prices higher and bet customers would understand.
"If this keeps up, I'll be looking at $5-a-gallon gas by next Thursday," said Ali Mazarei, who owns an Arco station in Riverside County. On Thursday, Mazarei was charging $4.52 for a gallon of regular gasoline, up from $4.27 on Wednesday and $4.21 on Tuesday.