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Updated Jan 30, 2014 - 10:32 am

Explosion rocks SUV at suburban Phoenix store

TEMPE, Ariz. — Tempe police are trying to figure out what caused an explosion inside an SUV parked at a convenience store Wednesday night.

The explosion near Priest Drive and U.S. 60 blew out the vehicle’s rear window. Tempe Police Lt. Scott Smith said the driver was parked at a gas pump when the explosion occurred and he was seen removing items from the rear of the vehicle and throwing them in a dumpster.

Store employees helped the driver put out the fire, but he left before responders arrived.

The vehicle was found at a nearby apartment complex, but there was no sign of the driver. A portion of the complex was evacuated while police investigated.

Police said the bomb squad said the vehicle didn’t contain
explosives and didn’t appear to be associated with a mobile methamphetamine lab. However, the explosion may have been caused by drug activity.

“It appears that the subject was doing something consistent with trying to extrapolate hashish oil from marijuana and was using some sort of ignition source or fuel, like a butane (gas) to do that, and it appears maybe that the fumes caused by that in the vehicle ignited,” Smith said.

The driver is described as being a white male in his mid-20s with long, scraggly hair. He was wearing a striped tank top and dark shorts and may have been burned. He was last seen running southbound on Priest, possibly chasing a dog.

Anyone with information on the incident is asked to contact the Tempe Police Department at (480) 530-8311.

KTAR’s Martha Maurer contributed to this report.


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