4 RV trailers burn at Mesa dealership; 1 employee injured

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You may have seen it while you were driving home Friday evening: a massive fire near U.S. 60. The flames erupted at the La Mesa RV Center off Mesa Drive and an employee of the dealership was badly burned by the fire.

The plume of thick, black smoke could be seen for miles, but those driving on the U.S. 60 got a front row seat.

Take a look at the video provided by John Stephens. You can see the smoke thickening and what seems to be an explosion.

Even though the fire was large, the freeway was able to stay open. Firefighters from Mesa and Gilbert were able to eventually knock it out, but what's left is just the skeleton of several recreational vehicles and one person was transported to an area hospital.

The manager at La Mesa RV tells FOX 10 a service technician discovered a propane leak right before the fire sparked. That employee was badly burned. Four RVs, which were all fairly newer and expensive, were gutted.

Nearly three dozen firefighters responded to the massive blaze. It took them about 20 minutes to put out the flames and afterward, crews sprayed foam on the charred remains of the RVs to prevent any flare-ups.

"These trailers are full of plastics.. synthetics.. that's what creates that thick, black smoke," explained Captain Dean Morales of the Mesa Fire Department.

The Senior Vice President of La Mesa RV, Bob Upton, tells FOX 10 the cause of the fire appears to be accidental. He says a service technician had discovered a propane leak right before the flames were ignited. The employee suffered severe burns, but was able to run into the building and call for help.

"Second and third degree burns to his hands, arms and face," said Morales.

The employee was taken to Maricopa Medical Center and is expected to survive.

The fire didn't spare four RVs, which were left gutted -- four piles of metal and ashes.

"Between the propane tanks and the plastics used to build the RVs, they burn pretty quick," said Morales.

Although the flames came up right next to the service building, firefighters were able to prevent it from burning.

"We put hose lines between the RV and building, wet it down, keep it cool, at the same time attacking the fire," said Morales.

Dealership officials say they're grateful the wind blew the flames away from the service shop.

Two employee cars and a golf cart were also destroyed.

Investigators are working on figuring out exactly what caused the propane leak and what sparked the massive fire.

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