Firefighters battle massive fire at Gilbert business

GIBLERT, AZ - Firefighters have extinguished a massive fire that consumed a Gilbert business Monday afternoon and blanketed the East Valley with smoke.


Video from Air15 around 5:30 p.m. showed areas of the blackened Farnsworth Wholesale building smoldering as crews began clean-up efforts.

The blaze sparked at the plumbing equipment and supply company near Baseline and McQueen at 3 p.m.

Jack Stapley, co-owner of the business, told ABC15 the building has been destroyed, and estimates a total loss of $8 million.

According to Stapley, the flames were mostly burning plastic and water heaters before sparking several propane tanks used for the businesses' fork lifts.

Scott Keefer, one of 80 employed by the company, said the flames quickly spread and within seconds the whole warehouse yard was on fire.

Witnesses told ABC15 they heard several loud explosions when the fire first broke out. Stapley confirmed several propane tanks exploded in the massive blaze, shooting 150 feet into the air when they ignited.

Air15 video over the scene showed multiple fire engines dousing the flames with water as thick black smoke poured into the air over the East Valley.

Gilbert Fire Department spokesman Mark Justus said the high temperatures and strong wind made it difficult for firefighters to fight the flames.

No injuries were reported.

Keefer told ABC15 workers were evacuated prior to the spread of the fire. Several surrounding neighborhoods were also evacuated for a brief period Monday afternoon.

Crews from Tempe, Chandler and Mesa also responded to the blaze to assist.

Department of Public Safety Officer Carrick Cook said US 60 off-ramps at Country Club were closed in both directions as crews battled the fire.

It is unclear at this time what sparked the flames. Stapley told ABC15 no welding was taking place at the time of the fire, and they are not sure what caused it.

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