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.]

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