There was an explosion Friday in Surprise AZ at an APS energy storage facility. Peoria fire department was called into what they would find out was their largest call in almost twenty years. Eight firefighters from the valley, including four from the Peoria hazmat team were injured in this shocking explosion. The injuries to these first responders are very serious, leaving the fire departments devastated.
Protective gear such as helmets and face masks were blown off some of these firefighters leaving them much more vulnerable to the explosion. The call made was a report of smoke in the area. The Peoria hazmat team was called in second, once first responders realized they had a much bigger problem on their hands. The explosion took place as soon as the hazmat team was entering the facility.
Justin Lopez suffered the most injuries, including skull and nose fractures, a collapsed lung, rip injuries, a leg fracture and a laceration to a leg artery. Lopez, as well as another first responder, Hunter Clare were both flown into the emergency room as a result of their injuries. Both men underwent two surgeries and are in the process of healing. Clare’s surgery is now confirmed as successful and he is staying positive.
In addition, two more firefighters went to the hospital for various injuries and were released. Since then however, they have both been readmitted. Matt Cottini called 911 Sunday upon experiencing severe headaches and went back to the hospital. Further tests are being done.
Another firefighter Jake Ciulla was brought back to the hospital by his father. His father was concerned with the amount of pain Ciulla was in so brought him back. He has since been discharged for a second time. These firefighters also experienced chemical and smoke inhalation burns. The long term effects of these types of injuries are to be determined, and different for each person depending on the severity.
Family, friends and the Surprise/Peoria area are all giving as much love and support as possible. All of these men will recover and the Peoria Fire-Medical Department is posting updates via their Twitter account. Firefighters work each day and risk their lives to keep others safe. Typically they can quickly get situations under control, but there are those few times that unexpected problems occur that can have lasting effects on these men and women. Surprise and Peoria are showing the upmost gratitude and respect for these first responders. The cause of the explosion is still under investigation, but according to APS it was an issue with “equipment failure”.
For the channel 12 news report on this incident please visit https://www.12news.com/article/news/local/valley/2-peoria-firefighters-readmitted-themselves-to-hospital-days-after-explosion-in-surprise/75-0e802d1e-b39b-4253-8831-1f584006f4d2