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3 Peoria firefighters remain in hospital after explosion at battery facility

PHOENIX – Three of the four Peoria firefighters who were injured in a battery facility explosion fire remained hospitalized Monday, two in critical but stable condition.

A spokesman for Peoria Fire-Medical said engineer Justin Lopez suffered life-threatening injuries in the Friday fire at an Arizona Public Service solar energy storage site in Surprise.

The building exploded shortly after a hazmat team arrived at the McMicken Energy Storage near Grand Avenue and Deer Valley Road. A bystanders called in the fire after seeing smoke.

Eight firefighters, four from Surprise, responded to the blaze. None of the Surprise first responders was hurt. One Peoria firefighter, Jake Ciulla, was discharged from the hospital Sunday night.

Lopez was scheduled for a third operation. The paramedic was treated for fractures to his skull, ribs, left leg and nose, a collapsed lung and multiple burns and lacerations to this body.

He has been with the department for 12-plus years.

Capt. Hunter Clare was brought in with fractures to his ankles, shoulder and burns.

The 15-year veteran’s injuries weren’t life-threatening but they were serious.

Firefighter Matt Cottini suffered lacerations and burns to his head and took significant damage to a knee.

APS said in a partial statement, “Our top priority is the health and safety of the first responders, and our thoughts are with them and their families.”

The public utility company also said cause of the equipment failure was still being investigated.

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