It was nearly a year ago when firefighters from the Peoria Fire-Medical Department in Arizona responded to a call about a brushfire northwest of Phoenix. When they arrived on scene, they didn’t find a brushfire, but a 2-megawatt lithium-ion battery installation with white smoke wafting from its vents and doors.
Uncertain about how to best address the situation, the firefighters monitored the heat and emissions at the site; called in experts from Arizona Public Service, the utility that owned and operated the installation; and plotted a strategy to ventilate the site to reduce the dangers of explosion or conflagration. About three hours later, and with no apparent warning, an explosion ripped through the installation, seriously injuring several firefighters and first responders. The incident remains under investigation.