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Tainted diesel fuel damages several vehicles in St. Cloud area

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Police are investigating hundreds of thousands of gallons of contaminated diesel fuel at two St. Cloud area gas stations that caused damage to several vehicles.

According to the St. Cloud Times, investigators believe the tainted gas at First Fuel Bank locations on Lincoln Avenue SE in St. Cloud and Waite Park in mid-August was intentional.

Nearly 60 customers, including city workers driving recycling and fire trucks, pumped the bad diesel between Aug. 16 and Aug. 23. Many noticed problems with their vehicles within hours of leaving the gas stations.

The Star Tribune notes that many vehicles experiences a loss of power as their exhaust systems started to fail. Damage estimates by police fall in the tens of thousands of dollars range.

Gerald Kaeter, assistant director of operations and maintenance in the public works department, told the St. Cloud Times that at least three new filters on city vehicles will need to be replaced at a cost of about $15,000.

About 16 Allied Waste trucks were removed from service in Sauk Rapids, where company maintenance crews found damage to engine filters.

Research is being conducted to determine exactly what type of contaminant was used to spike the underground tanks and if it's likely to cause engine damage. However, KARE 11 reports preliminary testing points to liquid fertilizer as the cause of problems.

First Fuel Bank CEO Jim Feneis said the company drained 55,000 gallons of fuel, about $200,000 worth, and vacuumed tanks and lines the day the contamination was reported.

A $6,000 reward, mostly provided by First Fuel Bank, is being offered for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of in the case, the Star Tribune said. Anyone with information is asked to call St. Cloud police at 320-345-4444, Waite Park police at 320-251-6300 or Tri-County Crime Stoppers at 1-800-255-1301.

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