Roof collapse broke gas line, possibly causing massive fire that destroyed Phoenix Safeway store

PHOENIX, Ariz. — Officials with the Phoenix Fire Department released a statement Thursday morning, July 12 on a possible cause for the massive fire at a Safeway Wednesday night.

Capt. Rob McDade said fire investigators are on scene looking at the possibility that there was a partial roof collapse to the rear of the store that broke a gas line and damaged the main electrical box.

The combination of these two things may have started the fire that destroyed the whole store.

According to McDade, over 75 firefighters battled the three-alarm fire that started just before 6 p.m. at the Safeway near 35th and Northern avenues.

McDade said a microburst in the area dropped a large amount of rain prior to the fire and the flat roof of the store could have collected rain from previous storms this week.

The amount of water on top of the roof may have caused the roof to collapse, according to McDade.

Firefighters were able to clear the store of customers and employees and there were no injuries reported.

Nancy Keane, a spokeswoman for Safeway, released a statement Thursday morning thanking all first responders. Keane also said that it is Safeway’s intent to relocate employees from that store to other locations in Phoenix and surrounding areas:

“On behalf of Safeway and Albertsons management and employees, we wish to thank all first responders including Phoenix Fire, Phoenix Police, Glendale Fire, and utility crews, who worked fearlessly throughout last night and into early morning hours battling the fire that devastated Safeway located at 35th Ave and Northern in Phoenix.

Our primary concern throughout this tragic fire was for the safety of our employees, customers and emergency workers. This morning we are grateful, beyond measure, that there are no reported injuries or casualties.

It is our intent to relocate employees from this store to other locations in the Phoenix and surrounding areas. Though we never anticipated this tragedy, our company leaders are focused on determining next steps following the loss of this store.

Our heartfelt gratitude extends to the community in which we’ve had the privilege of serving for 37 years at this location. We are overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from our customers, vendors, employees, and community at large.

We realize that this Safeway location was the main grocery store for many residents in the area and we’re exploring different options to assist residents with their shopping needs.”

According to the statement, this Safeway location has been in the community for 37 years. Keane said the company is exploring ways to continue to serve the residents in the area.