Shown is the Phillips 66 gas station on East Center Street in Warsaw. Photo by David Slone, Times-Union
Shown is the Phillips 66 gas station on East Center Street in Warsaw. Photo by David Slone, Times-Union
The state shut down the gas pumps at the Phillips 66 gas station at 2518 E. Center St., Warsaw, on Monday until they’ve been remediated and the state performs another inspection on them.

“They’re not allowed to sell gas there,” said Rob Barker, Kosciusko County weights and measures inspector, until the state OKs it.

While he doesn’t know how many complaints the state has received, he said he knows of at least two complaints about the gas that was being sold there and at least one official complaint was made with the state. Complaints started being made Sunday of poorly running vehicles after drivers pumped gas at the station into their gas tanks.

The Indiana State Department of Health Division of Weights and Measures state inspector for the area, Lamar Horn, was in Warsaw on Monday. After his inspection, he shut down the pumps, Barker said.

Red tags put on the pumps state they are “condemned until repaired and sealed.” They also say, “This is to certify that this instrument has been tested and found to be incorrect and its use is herby forbidden until it has been corrected.”

According to a spokesperson for Phillips 66, the issue in question relates to an individually-owned and -operated branded station.

“Phillips 66 is a supplier of petroleum products to wholesale distributors who in turn deliver the product to retail service stations, which are not operated by Phillips 66. Station operators are responsible for their own operations, and since this is an operations-specific issue, consumers with questions or concerns regarding this matter should contact the station operator,” according to the official statement from Phillips 66.

An employee of the gas station, who identified himself hesitantly as Russel Md, said late Tuesday morning that they don’t know what’s wrong with the gas or where the problem is coming from. It was delivered Saturday and Sunday morning they started receiving complaints about the gas, he said. As soon as the complaints began about “bad gas,” he said they stopped selling it and he estimated that to be around 8 or 9 a.m. Sunday.

“That’s all we know right now,” he said.

Tatum Langley, a cast member of Wagon Wheel Center for the Arts’ production of “The Sound of Music,” was one of the people whose vehicles was affected by the gas.

She said around 3:30 p.m. Saturday, she was on her way back from rehearsals and stopped at the station to fill her car up as her vehicle was near empty. She drove about a half mile and her vehicle just stalled out while she was driving. It completely died out, she said, and she couldn’t restart it. Fortunately, she was on a side road and not on the highway. She pushed her car off to the side of the road as best as she could.

Originally, Langley thought it might be her battery, but a friend came and jumped her car and nothing happened.

That night at rehearsals, another cast member reported their mom’s car died after getting gas at the station and that’s when Langley thought the problem might be the gas.

When Langley called a mechanic, the mechanic asked her if she had gotten gas at the Phillips 66 station. When she told the mechanic she had, he told her other people were reporting the same problem.

Langley said if there’s damage to her car, she hopes the gas station takes responsibility and pays for it. As she’s an out-of-towner, she’s had to rely on friends and walking since she’s now without a car.

She was glad to hear that the gas station stopped selling the gas.

A consumer complaint filed with the state by Teresa Dittmar, on behalf of her daughter Isabelle “Izzy” Dittmar - provided to the Times-Union by Deon Dittmar - states that on Saturday, Nov. 19, Izzy purchased $20 of 87 octane at pump No. 5. A few miles after leaving the station, she experienced engine trouble and was unable to restart the vehicle. Teresa requested the station be investigated for fuel quality.

The Indiana Division of Weights & Measures provided redacted copies of four consumer complaint forms they received, including the one from the Dittmars.

The first one states that on Saturday, a male purchased $11 of 87 octane fuel. Immediately after leaving the station, he experienced engine problems. He requested the station be tested for bad fuel.

The second one was Teresa’s complaint.

The third states that on Sunday, a female purchased fuel. As she was driving home, the “car died out” as she was pulling into a parking lot. She wanted the station tested for bad fuel.

Finally, the fourth one states that after 8:45 a.m. Sunday, two people filled their fuel tanks with gasoline from the station and shortly after leaving, both vehicles quit. They requested the fuel at the station be tested.

Under Horn’s findings, all four forms state, “Stuck all gasoline storage tanks using Gasoila and Sar-Gel water detecting pastes. Unleaded tank No. 1 showed 8 (inches) of water.” Under additional comments, the forms state, “All other storage tanks showed no signs of water. All pumps were shut down upon arrival. Pumps have been red-tagged and taken out of service until problem is resolved.”

In a telephone interview Tuesday, Izzy said she put $20 worth of gas in her car at the gas station around 5 p.m. Saturday.

“I made it out onto 30 and was getting on Old 30 and my car was not able to accelerate,” she said.

Her car wouldn’t go over 10 mph and began shaking violently. She pulled her car over and talked to her parents, who came to help. Thinking turning the car off and then back on might help, Izzy said after they shut the car off, it hasn’t turned over since. The lights and battery work, but “the engine won’t turn on,” she said.

Initially, her parents thought maybe she put diesel in the fuel tank, but she swore she did not. The car being just a year-old car, Izzy thought it was strange that it was having problems.

Her parents did some research and figured out the problem was fuel. Izzy Googled Phillips 66 and found a review  from a person eight hours earlier telling others not to get gas at the Phillips 66 station as the gas caused their car not to work.

Since the incident, the Dittmars have been warning others about the problem, Izzy said. She said the inspector went out and they now “know it was water in the fuel.”

Though she’s without her own vehicle now, her boyfriend’s dad has an extra Prius he has loaned her to use.

“If I did not have them in my life, I wouldn’t have a car. I’m really thankful for that,” she said.

Though it was a bad experience, Izzy said it was a learning experience.

“I guess one thing I didn’t know - I’m young - I never knew there were certain gas stations you shouldn’t pump gas at. They’re sketchy,” she said.