Daily Archives: August 13, 2008

Neighbors seek answers in aftermath of west Phoenix explosion

The public is invited to attend a presentation by the Maricopa County Air Quality Control Department on compliance by Paramount Petroleum in the wake of a May 1 explosion at the company’s west Phoenix plant.

  • Date: Thursday, August 14
  • Time: 6 p.m.
  • Place: Phoenix Elementary District #1 Governing Board Room (turn south off Palm Lane, just east of 7th St., meeting in northeast corner of the campus)

Firefighters were trying to keep the fire from spreading to other tanks. (Jim Cross/KTAR)On May 1, Phoenix firefighters and hazardous materials crews responded to an explosion at a Paramount Petroleum plant, near 19th Ave. and McDowell Rd.  At the time of the explosion, Victor Rangel of the Phoenix Fire Department, said, “There appears to be a large tank that had raw asphalt product in it.  That caught fire and exploded.  At this point, we have no injuries.”

Rangel said no structures were threatened.  Firefighters were trying to keep the fire from spreading to other tanks.  No evacuations were ordered.

According to KTAR Radio, it was a frightening situation for businesses located near the tank that exploded.  Josh Scott runs Renovated Metals, about 100 yards from the tank that exploded.  His workers heard an explosion.  The ground shook.  Then police evacuated the employees.  “A huge boom and they said sulfur, it smelled like sulfur pretty bad, so they’re all a little shaken up,” Scott said.  “The shock waves scared them pretty much.  The police came in and evacuated them, so we took them to our other yards.”

Phoenix fire ladder trucks sprayed thousands of gallons of water on the tank to cool it down and keep it from spreading to several other tanks nearby.  “So many cylinders over there if it spread.  I just want to be safe and make sure my guys are safe.  When the fire department clears it and lets them back then we’ll open back up,” Scott said.  There’s no word yet on what triggered the explosion.

[Editor’s Note: Within a mile of the explosion site are five schools — Capitol Elementary School, Magnet Traditional School, Franklin Police & Fire High School, Horizons Back-to-Basics School, and Metropolitan Arts Institute.  Within two miles, there are 39 schools.]

New report says Phoenix has low concentration of working-poor neighborhoods

[Source: Russ Wiles, Arizona Republic] — Do poor people live in or near your neighborhood?  The answer could be yes, as working-poor families in the Valley are more spread out than in most other cities.  And that’s generally good for them and for the economy, according to a report being released today.  The study from the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., shows the Valley is bucking a national trend in which poor working families increasingly cluster together.  The study ranks the Phoenix metro area as having the fifth-lowest concentration of working-poor neighborhoods of 58 urban areas studied.  The Valley also ranks second-best in the country for its percentage decline in poor-neighborhood concentrations over a recent six-year period.

The study focuses on the geographic concentration of poverty rather than the number of low-income families because people who live in disadvantaged geographic areas face a “double burden,” according to the report’s authors.  They not only must try to make ends meet on low incomes but also usually live in areas characterized by few jobs, higher consumer prices, low housing values, more crime, worse community health standards, inferior schools, and so on.

Western cities generally scored well in terms of low concentrations of poverty-riddled neighborhoods – and in terms of the change of that concentration from 1999 to 2005.  The Sacramento, San Diego, and Washington, D.C., metro areas had the lowest concentrated poverty rates, followed by Trenton, N.J., and the Phoenix metro area, including Mesa and Scottsdale.  Also, the Valley enjoyed the second-biggest decrease in high-poverty neighborhoods from 1999 to 2005, trailing only the Los Angeles metro area.  The study relied on 2005 because that’s the most recent year for which poverty data were available.  However, the Valley’s job market, housing market and economy have deteriorated since then — a trend also pronounced in Los Angeles and other Western cities that scored well in the report.  “If you take it forward to 2008, things might not look quite as rosy for Phoenix and other Western cities,” said Alan Berube, a Brookings research director and report co-author.  “Performance of the regional economy explains a lot.”  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Renovations begin on downtown Phoenix Luhrs complex

[Source: Barbara Stocklin, City of Phoenix] — The City of Phoenix continues to coordinate with Hansji Urban, Ltd, the owners of the historic Luhrs complex on the south side of Jefferson Street between 1st and Central Avenues regarding their rehabilitation work. 

The street-facing historic windows on floors 2 through 7 of the Luhrs Building have been temporarily removed, and are being restored off-site; they will be re-installed once the wood components are restored and new laminated glass and E-film are inserted into the original window sashes.  The 1970s aluminum windows on floors 8 through 10 will be removed and replaced with replica historic dual pane aluminum windows which will closely resemble the historic wood windows.  Staff of the Historic Preservation Office approved all of the window rehabilitation and replacement plans and work is now underway.