PHOENIX (AP) – A two-alarm fire tore through a site where metals and compressed gases are stored, sending up thick, black plumes of smoke and forcing the precautionary evacuation of workers in businesses near the industrial area in Phoenix Thursday.
Phoenix Fire Department officials said the fire was under control but still smoldering nearly three hours after crews first arrived at the scene.
The cause of the blaze was unknown, but authorities said two employees of a plumbing supply company were doing welding work when the fire broke out just before noon.
The blaze consumed three structures in about 20 minutes, said Capt. Jonathan Jacobs, a Phoenix Fire spokesman.
He said one employee of the plumbing supply company suffered minor burns but no other injuries were immediately reported.
It was called a hazardous materials incident because propane tanks and flammable metals were involved, said Jacobs, adding that some of the compressed gases vented from the tanks and ruptured from the fire’s heat.
Phoenix Fire dispatched more than 50 engines and other units to the blaze.
Fire ladder crews sprayed streams of water onto storage facilities and pallets behind several structures and appeared to knock down the huge flames and heavy smoke within 90 minutes.
Phoenix police Sgt. Trent Crump said people in surrounding businesses were being asked to evacuate.
Jacobs said crews planned to be at the scene for several more hours.
“We’ve made this a defensive fire. We recognize the dangers,” he said. “Our goal is essentially to take the heat away from the fire and reduce it so that it will stop eating everything up.”
The industrial area in west-central Phoenix is near the junction of Interstates 10 and 17, which are the main freeways to get to Los Angeles and Flagstaff from downtown Phoenix. The fire temporarily closed one westbound ramp from I-10 to I-17.
Associated Press reporter Walter Berry in Phoenix contributed to this report.
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