Explosions Rock Oil Facility

Monday, September 14, 2015 @ 05:09 PM gHale

Dozens of drums of used motor oil exploded in a large fire at a solvent recycling company, sending up fireballs that blackened the sky south of downtown Phoenix for more than an hour Wednesday.

It happened in a storage area of SRC Oil & Fuel. The area had a series of 55-gallon drums filled with motor oil and solvents used to clean auto parts lined up, firefighters said. The area also contained a 4,000-gallon tank of motor oil.

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The 55-gallon drums heated up and exploded, with several flying into the air as projectiles, fire officials said. Officials didn’t know if the 4,000-gallon drum exploded, sad said Capt. Larry Subervi, a spokesman for the Phoenix Fire Department.

When one of the tanks burst in a series of explosions, the blast damaged power lines in the area. It also forced firefighters to back up their ladder trucks to a safer area.

The huge fire produced an estimated 30 explosions, Subervi said.

While investigators have not drawn any conclusions about what sparked the fire, one of the owners of SRC Oil & Fuel said it might have started in a diesel-powered boiler.

A convenience store and other businesses near the fire ended up evacuated as a precaution, affecting about 100 people, Subervi said.

There was no immediate word of any injuries, Subervi said.

Fifty firefighters were on scene to battle the three-alarm fire, along with 20 hazardous-materials specialists.

According to the SRC Oil & Fuel website, the company “specializes in collecting and recycling used oil, used diesel fuels, used jet fuels, used gasoline, used oil filters, used antifreeze, oily water, used oil grease, used oil absorbents, used oily rags and other used oil products.”

The company has been in business for more than 25 years. In addition to the Phoenix plant, SRC Oil & Fuel also has facilities in Quartzsite, AZ, as well as in California and Louisiana.