Explosion and fire at Tucson factory

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - A late night explosion and fire hurt five people and challenged Tucson Firefighters to put it out.

It happened at the Desert Whale Jojoba Company near 22nd and Aviation.

Jojoba plants are used for cosmetics and shampoo, but the process creates oil and powder. Both can be flammable, and they proved it last night.

It was about twenty minutes to midnight when the explosion and fire broke out.

Six workers were inside, five of them needed hospital treatment.

The building had a sprinkler system, but the explosion seems to have knocked it out.  A gas line broke and added to the fire.

Tucson Fire Captain Andy Skaggs narrated video he caught up close.

He said, “We have had partial building collapse already.  You can see the aerial in the back setting up for an aerial master stream.”

Lordes Trammell heard a boom and rushed to the fire.

She says the whole center of the building had been floated up the roof had been blown off and the center of the building was in rubble. The whole place was blazing red hot."

Fire crews were still cooling the fire throughout the day.

Wreckage shows the force of the explosion.  It blew a metal roll-up door into the street.  On the main structure, you can see a piece of the roof where the force of the explosion flipped it into onto an adjoining building as if it were on a hinge.

To remove any lingering hazards, demolition crews brought controlled destruction to the wreckage the fire left behind, with an eye towards keeping the structure next door safe.

Next door is where Travis Duran works at Anixter Electrical Supply: 

"Just makes you say 'wow' when you come in.  You don't realize how it could devastate you so quickly and knowing there were people in there made it a little worse being our neighbors and stuff like that."

And he is grateful firefighters were able to keep a fire so intense from spreading his way.

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