Peoria Fire: 4 firefighters recovering after being hurt in explosion

SURPRISE, Ariz. (FOX 10) -- Fire officials in Peoria say four firefighters are recovering after being hurt while working on a battery fire at an APS facility.

According to Peoria Fire officials, multiple West Valley agencies were working on the battery fire, and Peoria Fire's HAZMAT team was on scene and making an entry when an explosion happened. The firefighters were taken to various trauma centers.

Peoria fire has identified the four firefighters involved in the fire as Captain Hunter Clare, engineer Justin Lopez, firefighter Matt Cottini and firefighter Jake Ciulla. Lopez is awake and doing as well as can be expected, and Clare is recovering well from surgery. Ciulla and Cottini were discharged from the hospital and doing really well.

Officials with Surprise Police say the fire crews from Surprise Fire-Medical were called out to the McMicken Energy Storage Facility near Grand Avenue and Deer Valley Road at around 6:00 p.m. Friday after a citizen observed smoke. Four firefighters with Surprise Fire-Medical were also taken to the hospital for evaluation.

Fire officials tell us the firefighters suffered a combination of chemical burns and internal injuries. But the biggest question for investigators is how it happened.

"We do know the entire call is under investigation by police," said engineer Michael Selmer with Peoria Fire and Medical. "they're trying to find out what caused this."

APS released the following statement:

"We had an equipment failure at our energy-storage facility in Surprise, Ariz. on Friday. The cause is still under investigation. During the response, firefighters from Surprise and Peoria were injured. Our top priority is the health and safety of those first responders, and our thoughts are with them and their families. We will continue to work closely with response agencies on the scene.

As a result of the fire, US 60 eastbound near W. Deer Valley Road was closed. In a news conference, Surprise Fire-Medical officials say there was no threat to the public.