Fire smolders at Chandler battery storage facility nearly two weeks later

Several surrounding businesses had to be evacuated after a Chandler battery storage facility began burning two weeks ago.
Published: Apr. 29, 2022 at 10:04 PM MST
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CHANDLER, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) – A fire at a battery storage facility has been burning for nearly two weeks. As firefighters monitored the situation, businesses within a quarter-mile were urged to evacuate Friday. That order ended around 7 p.m.

Firefighters were called to the AES Battery Warehouse back on April 18th. There are 3,000 lithium batteries inside. The Salt River Project or SRP uses it to store energy. “It takes in energy at night when demand is low, stores that energy in these batteries, and then when we have our peak demand, on a hot summer day, we’re able to deploy those batteries,” Patty Garcia-Likens with SRP said.

With no one inside, firefighters let the sprinkler system do its job and opted not to go in. “This 48-hour period, we’ve kind of established as our sit and observe and monitor. Now that we have water supply inside the building secured and trying to ventilate the building,” Matt Miler with AES said.

AES owns and manages the building adjacent to an SRP substation. Arizona’s Family asked fire officials about air quality. “At this time, zero concerns about air quality based upon what we’re seeing,” Battalion Keith Welch with the Chandler Fire Department said.

This approach is based on lessons learned from 2019 when four Peoria firefighters were injured after a fire at a similar facility caused an explosion. “Slow approach, don’t go in; let’s develop a plan,” Welch said.

Those that live and work nearby this mostly industrial area said they’re following it closely. “Oh, it’s very concerning. I mean, it’s right down the street,” Todd Strom, a neighbor, said.

“I didn’t really have a concern with it until I rode down in that direction and saw the smoke and everything,” Timothy Short, who works close by, said.

Fire officials said they planned to meet with AES and SRP again Monday. They hope to end the emergency and turn the building over to AES. They will access the damage and investigate what caused the fire.