4 injured in explosion at Chandler strip mall; area evacuated

Aug 26, 2021, 10:27 AM | Updated: 8:31 pm

PHOENIX – Four people were hospitalized and the area was evacuated after a “devastating” explosion at a Chandler strip mall Thursday morning, authorities said.

All businesses on the northeast corner of Ray and Rural roads, as well as 20-30 homes to the north, were evacuated while crews checked for gas leaks and other potential hazards, Chandler Battalion Chief Keith Welch said during a press conference.

Dashcam video obtained by ABC15 of the explosion that occurred just before 9:30 a.m. at Platinum Printing showed hunks of roofing materials hurtling high into the air.

Four young men inside the building were hospitalized for burn injuries. They were all in stable condition and expected to survive, Dr. Kevin Foster, director of the Arizona Burn Center at Valleywise Health, said in a video press conference Thursday afternoon.

Foster said two patients were in the ICU and in critical condition, and two were in serious condition. He said they had burns ranging from 16% to 30% of their bodies.

Foster said they all will need surgery and extended hospital stays, but the injuries could have been worse considering the extent of the damage at the scene.

“The fact that anybody walked away from that is really amazing to me,” he said.

Welch said it was unclear if the people injured were employees or customers of the print shop.

The cause of the explosion was not immediately known, but Welch said authorities were checking for a possible gas leak in a parking lot next to the building.

“But I can tell you it was intense because of the debris — it was over 100 yards away. … And then we also had damage in approximately three suites away from the initial suite, damage to the walls, movement of the walls,” he said.

“It was a pretty devastating explosion.”

Welch said the emergency response included more than 100 personnel.

Police said responders would be working at the scene for “an extended period of time” and asked people to avoid the area. Ray Road was shut down between Rural Road and McClintock Drive.

Children at the Maxwell Preschool Academy, which is on the opposite end of the strip mall from the explosion site, were evacuated to the Sunrise Preschool on the northwest corner of Rural and Ray, police said.

The Chandler Sunset Library, which is just east of the explosion site, is closed until further notice.

TV news helicopter footage showed most of roof missing at Platinum Printing and adjoining businesses.

Debris was scattered on all sides of the building.

A witness told ABC15 he heard and felt the explosion from his home half a mile away.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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4 injured in explosion at Chandler strip mall; area evacuated