Firefighters battle blaze at lithium battery warehouse in Phoenix

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Firefighters battled a blaze involving lithium batteries at an industrial park in Phoenix. (Source: Phoenix Fire Dept.) Firefighters battled a blaze involving lithium batteries at an industrial park in Phoenix. (Source: Phoenix Fire Dept.)
Firefighters battled a blaze involving lithium batteries at an industrial park in Phoenix. (Source: 3TV/CBS5) Firefighters battled a blaze involving lithium batteries at an industrial park in Phoenix. (Source: 3TV/CBS5)
Firefighters battled a blaze involving lithium batteries at an industrial park in Phoenix. (Source: 3TV/CBS5) Firefighters battled a blaze involving lithium batteries at an industrial park in Phoenix. (Source: 3TV/CBS5)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

Firefighters are keeping an eye on a still-smoldering industrial building in north Phoenix. You may have seen the black cloud of toxic smoke on your drive home.

The blaze was reported just before 5 p.m. near Deer Valley Rd. and Central Avenue, according to the Phoenix Fire Department.

The warehouse is owned by Gruber Industries, and was used to store batteries for cars and motorcycles, many of them containing lithium. 

"Lithium is very volatile, it can cause explosions when water is applied to it, toxic gasses, a potential with lithium fires," said  Captain Jake Van Hook with the Phoenix Fire Dept. 

The blaze spread very quickly and a roof collapsed.

Firefighters applied a defensive strategy to battling the blaze, protecting nearby structures as Hazmat teams worked on a plan to put out the main body fire, according to the Phoenix Fire Department.

Meanwhile, onlookers were warned not to stand directly downwind of the potentially dangerous smoke

Now that the fire is mostly out, the concern of toxic smoke is no longer an issue.

The business owner's grandson, Aaron Gurney, saw the plume from the road.

“Right once I saw it I was like ‘Oh that’s totally where they’re at.’ And I didn’t know of any battery warehouses around, so I was like, ‘That’s got to be my grandpa’s spot,’” said Gurney. 

He says thankfully most employees had already gone home when the fire started. One worker suffered throat irritation from the fire and was evaluated, but declined a ride to the hospital.

 “I know he’s insured," Gurney said of his grandfather. "He’s really smart about the things that he does, so I'm sure that they had plans for in case this happened, but with batteries things like this can happen.” 

Crews remained on scene for several hours checking for hotspots. 

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