Evacuation lifted in West Chandler near building where lithium-ion battery fire has smoldered

Chandler Fire on Friday afternoon evacuated an area near Interstate 10 and Loop 202 while it ventilated a building where a lithium-ion battery fire has smoldered for more than a week. –Chandler Fire graphic

Chandler Fire Department gave the all-clear Friday evening and lifted an evacuation of businesses within a quarter mile of 54th Street and Pecos Road while they ventilated a battery-storage facility within a Salt River Project substation where a lithium-ion battery fire has smoldered for more than a week.

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56th Street has reopened from Frye to Allison roads.

Air quality in the area continues to be monitored.

Chandler Fire Battalion Chief Keith Welch initially said a week ago that firefighters were forced into a defensive posture when a lithium-ion battery cell is believed to have shorted and overheated, damaging other battery cells. Robots were deployed to open doors and ventilate the structure to avoid risk to first responders from the hazardous materials.

There was an initial evacuation of businesses at that time roughly matching the area where Friday’s evacuation took place.

An interior sprinkler system had poured nearly 1 million gallons of water on the smoldering fire during the past week.

The building is owned by AES Corp., which stores energy for SRP. An AES Corp. spokesperson said it’s too early to speculate on the cause of the incident and an investigation will be conducted in the coming weeks.

A similar battery in Surprise that stored energy for Arizona Public Service Co. exploded in 2019 and eight firefighters and a police officer were injured during the incident.

Information was exchanged with Chandler fire crews regarding best practices resulting from the Surprise incident.

 

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