Phoenix home near Piestewa Peak destroyed after ‘significant explosion’; several other houses damaged

A house fire broke out in Phoenix Saturday afternoon and smoke was seen billowing into the air after a “significant explosion” eventually destroyed the house and damaged nearby homes, firefighters said.

The fire broke out near 36th Street and Lincoln Drive around 4:40 p.m. near Piestewa Peak and the house appears to be in a gated community.

“The house is totally destroyed, firefighting is in a defensive strategy, protecting adjacent structures. We have established a no go zone and hazmat technicians are assessing other hazardous conditions. Several other houses are damaged, and we have the Deputy Fire Marshal responding,” Deputy Fire Chief Tim Kreis said.

No injuries were reported and no one was in the house at the time of the explosion and fire.

The fire did not spread to any other houses, but the explosion damaged nine other houses. Southwest Gas, APS and structural engineers were on scene to assess what might have happened. It’s unclear if the home uses gas, but a propane tank was found on the property – authorities can’t confirm if that was the source of the explosion.

Phoenix Fire Captain Evan Gammage said, “We’re extremely lucky, and we’re extremely happy that, as you said, this didn’t turn into an incident where multiple homes or other injuries , and we did not have to do any medical treatment at the time of extinguishing the fire.”

Dave Mann on Twitter“It moved so much air that it pushed a sliding glass door in and out several times, near 22nd Street and Camelback… It looked like a bomb, and it would be surprising if anyone in Phoenix is outside where it was reasonably quiet and didn’t I can’t hear it.”

On February 7, Phoenix Fire provided an update on the incident, saying, “The exact origin and cause of Saturday’s fire on 36th Street in Phoenix remains to be determined. Structural engineers are on the scene to assist the Phoenix Fire Investigations Task Force in verifying that all structures affected by the event are still safe to conduct the investigation.An accelerator detector dog is also on scene to assist in conduct a thorough investigation into the cause of this incident.

The multi-million dollar home was nearly 5,000 square feet. The owners are Phoenix nursing home abuse and injury attorneys — FOX 10 reached out to them, but they declined to talk to us.

Retired Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) investigator and explosives expert Anthony May watched video of the explosion and said he saw something unusual.

“You have the obvious explosion on the right side of the screen…and to the left of that you have a very strong ball of fire going through somewhat horizontally, and that’s not typical of your normal explosions,” said he declared.

Phoenix Fire Captain Scott Douglas said: “At this point, there is no indication of foul play. We will be conducting a full investigation, including using our speeding dog to make sure there was no nothing criminal or suspicious.”

Neighbors still in shock

Because the explosion damaged nearby houses, some came to the aid of their loved ones. Mike Murphy rushed to the area to help evacuate his 70-year-old mother. He says her house was right behind the one that exploded and she has lived there for about five decades.

“A lot of his windows were blown out, his porch ceilings were all blown out,” Murphy said.

“The house exploded and flew away,” said neighbor Ron Shafer. “Broken windows in all the houses around it. Foundation damage, there was a consequent explosion.”

The skyline of Phoenix’s North Quarter will be forever altered after the house explosion.

Shafer lives down the street and says he was watching television at the time of the explosion.

“I ran outside and white smoke, I ran through there, pieces of roof were on the road, the house was already gone. Three quarters of it was gone, big flames, neighbors trying to find out if there was anyone inside,” he explained.

Phoenix fire crews worked through the night and all day Sunday to assess the damage and ensure all hot spots were cleared. Nearby homes were also having their properties checked, while blocking off broken windows.

“We’re going to have it inspected because everyone is finding damage that untrained eyes can’t see, but I think we’re safe because we were under the blast,” Shafer said.

Betty Bool inspected the aftermath of her home that was damaged in the blast, showing FOX 10 an inside look a day later. She’s lived in the Quiet Neighborhood for over 25 years and she’s seen a lot of changes, but the house explosion was definitely a first.

“It certainly wasn’t a small house and to think that in seconds everything could be blown to bits…there’s nothing left of that house,” Bool said.

Inside his own home there is now shattered glass, shattered shards on the floor and pushing dangerously in all directions. She had no idea what was going on when the explosion happened.

“There were pieces of glass screeching against each other. I thought about what was going on, no one was near those windows,” she recalls.

“I thought a bomb or a plane had hit”

Barry Hendricks was at home when the house exploded saying: “I was sitting in my recliner in my bedroom, 4.39am a huge explosion lifted me off the recliner about an inch or two. C It was like a sonic boom – I had no idea what it was.”

He and his wife Susan were still reliving the times when their neighbours’ house suddenly exploded as it sent shockwaves through the community while blanketing the area in debris. Their house was only a few meters away. They lost a window and found cracks in the walls of their room.

“I thought a bomb or a plane had hit. When I saw the window, I immediately got up. He ran out, and we tried to get out of the house to see what happened. had passed and that’s when the door got stuck, so we finally got out and I saw the house was on fire,” recalls Susan.

Todd Keller of Phoenix Fire says, “A neighbor said his roof actually lifted off his house. Another neighbor said some interior doors wouldn’t close.”

For now, the house is guarded by security, while the Phoenix Fire Department is still trying to determine the cause. “Due to the size and location of it, it will take some time for our investigators to release the report. It could take weeks, months, or even longer,” Keller said.

A house fire broke out in Phoenix on Saturday afternoon near 36th Street and Lincoln Drive and smoke was seen billowing into the air. Photo courtesy of the Phoenix Fire Department

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