THOMASVILLE, N.C. (WGHP) — Nexstar sister station WGHP is investigating reports of tainted gas being sold in the Triad.

A FOX8 viewer sent us an email about a vehicle breaking down after a fill-up at the Circle K on Randolph Street in Thomasville.

People showing up Wednesday were being told the station is out of gas.

A State Department of Agriculture inspector told FOX8 that the reason all the yellow bags are over the pump handles is that water was found in the tanks.

“With the heavy rains that have happened over the last week, we’ve seen an uptick…we’re seeing more phase separations at more gas stations,” said Marcus Helfrich, the program manager with the department.

What that means is there is enough water in the gasoline to allow the two to separate and leave a layer of gasoline at the top of the tank and an ethanol/water “cocktail” on the bottom.

So when people start filling their tanks, some get a lot of water.

“If you get too much water, the water will actually pull it out of the gasoline,” Helfrich said.

A report showed eight inches of phase separation in the regular unleaded storage tank at the Circle K on Randolph Street in Thomasville.

“That ethanol-water layer is very caustic to a vehicle and can cause damage to the spark plugs and fuel system,” he said.

These are problems people who pumped gas here over the weekend complained to FOX8 about.

So how does this happen?

“There are a lot of ways that water can get into an underground storage tank,” Helfrich said. “Not sure if there is construction at the site. Little micro-fissures where water can slip in. If it’s an older station, maybe there are some loose fill caps where water can spill in there?”

For now, Circle K can only sell 93 premium.

An inspector at the station Wednesday found the problem is still being addressed.

“They are working hard to get it cleared, so they can sell things. They are taking it pretty seriously. It was a pretty bad incident,” Helfrich said.

It’s a real pain at the pump for people who now have to spend hundreds of dollars to repair their vehicles.

“I know there is a big concern about stations watering down the fuel with high fuel costs. Stations are victims of this too. The actual cost to cover remediating can be tens of thousands of dollars. A lot of times, they don’t know they have the problem,” Helfrich said.

Some drivers want the station owner to pay for their repairs.

They are not responsible. But if you are going to try to get them to cover the costs, state officials say you need to save your gas receipts, proof of towing and repair bills when dealing directly with the gas station.

The state inspector says one thing to look for is how the pump is fueling your vehicle.

If the pump suddenly slows down or the hose pumping the fuel seems to slow, that’s a sign to stop using the pump. It may just be a pump problem, but it is a sign something is not right.

Also, it is a good idea to not pump gas while the fuel trucks are filling the tanks because they can kick stuff up at the bottom of the tank.