PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- A huge fire broke out at an apartment building that is under construction in central Phoenix early Tuesday morning. 

Video from the scene shows massive flames engulfing the building north of 12th Street and Indian School Road. The Phoenix Fire Department said it was called out shortly before 6 a.m. Crews, who were on the tail-end of a 24-hours shift, immediately went defensive, focused on protecting neighboring buildings, and requested more firefighters be assigned.

12th St Apartment Fire

A large plume of black smoke could be seen for miles. One viewer told Arizona's Family that they saw the smoke from Gilbert.

Capt. Todd Keller with the Phoenix Fire Department said the building was a two-story apartment building that has been under construction. The owners of nearby businesses told the Phoenix Fire Department construction had been going on for about seven months. The building reportedly was still in the framing stage which means there was plenty of exposed wood to feed the flames.

“When you look at unoccupied structures that are under construction, those are our largest fires, historically,” said Phoenix Fire Capt. Rob McDade. “You’ve got everything that a fire wants. You’ve got wood. It’s got its fuel. Oxygen. It’s open spaces so there are no confined spaces that slow down a fire.”

Firefighters once again requested more crews be sent to the scene, partially because of the heat. To protect the firefighters, crews were rotated every 15-20 minutes.

"Crews were placed on all four sides of the apartment to protect the nearby exposures," Keller said. "Crews were able to stop the spread of the fire and prevent it from extending to the surrounding buildings."

The fire burned so hot that blinds behind glass in at least one of nearby building melted.

"We talked to nearby people that said they were immediately woken up by the heat, knowing that there was a radical change in temperature in their place," McDade said. "That radiant heat -- it's impressive."

Firefighters managed to knock down the flames relatively quickly. By 7 a.m., they had gone into mop-up mode. Crews stayed on the scene to deal with any flare-ups and hotspots.

Investigators are working to determine if the fire was accidental or possible arson. They're not ruling anything out.

“A building under construction that has yet to have power run into it should not catch on fire," McDade said, explaining that an accelerant-sniffing dog would be taken through the rubble.

Power is out in parts of the area because of the fire," McDade said. APS is working to replace those lines.

No injuries were reported.


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