Fire marshall calls halt to Clovis gas war

By Sharna Johnson: Freedom Newspapers

When a fevered gas war between rival convenience stores snarled traffic at one of the city’s busiest intersections Wednesday afternoon, Clovis Fire Marshall Allan Silvers had seen enough.

Silvers said with about 200 vehicles lined up to buy cheap gas, blocking the stores and a local fire station, he put an end to the battle because the traffic was a public safety hazard.

“If (they) couldn’t take care of the situation themselves, I advised both managers as well as one of the owners I would be forced to shut them down,” he said.

In response, Allsup’s raised its fuel price from 49 cents to $2.83 a gallon and Town and Country raised its 99 cents per gallon price tag to $2.86, Silvers said.

“If anyone in any of those vehicles had a medical emergency arise we couldn’t have gotten to them and there was no way for us to get onto either property.

They were in violation of fire codes requiring clear access to private property and public streets. This is not safe and it’s not going to happen,” Silvers said.

The stations attracted attention Tuesday when they began rapidly dropping their prices in competition, ending the day around $2.39 per gallon. The price skirmish between the two has been ongoing for a couple weeks, according to Dan McCurdy, Director of Communication for Town and Country Food Stores.

“As a retailer we’re pleased to see this situation come to an end and we’re more than pleased that many of our customers had an opportunity to benefit,” McCurdy said.

McCurdy said Tuesday the price war is a matter of maintaining Town and Country’s customer base.

“We’re not going to lose our customers because they’re offering a lower price,” McCurdy said. “We are going to insure our customers that we are going to offer them competitive prices and products.”

Allsup’s managers at the store declined comment.

A woman who answered the phone at the corporate office said “I don’t believe they’ll be commenting.”