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Recovery and rebuilding after Chandler gas explosion

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Posted at 5:53 PM, Aug 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-26 21:39:08-04

CHANDLER, AZ — Physical and emotional scars are still healing a year after a natural gas explosion destroyed part of a Chandler strip mall.

The explosion on August 26, 2021, at Ray and Rural roads collapsed the roof at Platinum Printing and damaged several other businesses.

Locations in the map below are approximated from a geolocation service.

Related: Map shows clusters of past Driscopipe gas leaks in Arizona

The print shop owners, Dillon and Andrew Ryan, their employee, Parker Milldebrandt, and an eyeglass store worker, Glenn Jordan, were seriously burned. They spent weeks in the hospital and rehab facilities.

“I think about them all the time; I feel so bad for them and their families,” said Heather Ropos, who was working at a medical office across the parking lot when the explosion occurred. “It could've been anyone; that's the scariest thing.”

A year later, Ropos remembers how items suddenly crashed to the ground and she heard a loud bang while she hurried outside.

“I just saw fire, people screaming, asking for help,” Ropos recalled. “I couldn't sleep for like a long time after that.”

The debris from the explosion is now gone. The strip mall façade remains intact, and efforts to rebuild the destroyed section are underway.

Investigators traced the source of the explosion to a leaking natural gas line behind the shopping center.

The Driscopipe 8000 brand pipe has a history of prematurely degrading and leaking under certain circumstances in hot, desert climates. This was not the first explosion.

The ABC15 Investigators have spent the year since this explosion looking into this problem pipe and what's being done to prevent more devastating explosions.

The four injured men have filed lawsuits against Southwest Gas, which operated the leaking gas line, and the manufacturer and installer of the pipe.

Southwest Gas officials said they have increased leak patrol inspections and removed or abandoned service to thousands of gas pipe segments that are most susceptible to premature degradation.