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PHOENIX -- A three-alarm fire near downtown Phoenix is expected to burn through the afternoon rush hour, a fire official said.

Emergency crews from across the Valley responded to the large fire, sparked by a welding accident, Thursday in an industrial area near the Interstate 10 and Interstate 17 stack.

The fire at Breecher Sales, located at 1326 N. 21st Ave., sent up a large plume of black smoke about 500 feet into the air that was visible across the Valley.

"They have a large yard, they have large storage facilities, but the reason this is a hazmat call is because all of the different things that they have," said Phoenix Fire Capt. Jonathan Jacobs.

The business stored many materials, along with flammable metal that reacts with water and compresses gasses like propane and natural gas. Several loud explosions were heard and some structures have collapsed.

"The immediate area is extremely dangerous for firefighters," Jacobs said.

Three buildings were lost in about 20 minutes.

The fire was difficult to fight because of the materials involved and the issue of getting enough water to fire lines. Firefighters solved both problems, Jacobs said. The fire is contained.

Nearby businesses were evacuated.

Westbound I-10 was closed from State Route 51 to 27th Avenue for several hours. It was reopened about 3:50 p.m. The ramps connecting westbound I-10 to both northbound and southbound I-17 remained closed.

The fire could cause air quality issues. It is expected to burn until about sunset at the earliest.

A worked involved in the accident was hospitalized with minor burns.

Below is video of an explosion inside the fire from 3TV.

KTAR Newsroom,

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