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Roofer's Torch Likely Cause of Huge Arizona Construction Site Blaze

by Phil Helsel /
Fire crews battle a blaze in the Phoenix suburb of Gilbert, Ariz., Saturday, April 23, 2016.
Fire crews battle a blaze in the Phoenix suburb of Gilbert, Ariz., Saturday, April 23, 2016.Cheryl Evans / The Arizona Republic via AP

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A massive fire that tore through an apartment complex construction site near Phoenix Saturday, forcing residents to be evacuated from nearby homes, was an accident, officials said Wednesday.

The blaze in Gilbert, Arizona, was likely caused by a torch used by roofers at the complex, Gilbert Fire and Rescue said in a statement Wednesday.

"The only known heat source in the area of origin was a torch being used by roofers," the fire department said in the statement.

//twitter.com/hashtag/GilbertFire?src=hash\#GilbertFire/a. Video: Rich P. Info: a href=\https://t.co/h7SJ89F64l\https://t.co/h7SJ89F64l/aa href=\https://t.co/YJbihP9r2R\https://t.co/YJbihP9r2R/a/pmdash; 12 News (@12News) a href=\https://twitter.com/12News/status/724087516123435009\April 24 |  2016/a/blockquote script async src=\//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js\ charset=\utf-8\/script

There were no serious injuries in the blaze, which sent embers raining onto nearby homes. The fire reached five alarms, and more than 120 firefighters were battling it before it was brought under control, officials said.

The construction site was in the wood-frame stage when it ignited, causing the fire to spread fast, fire officials said.

The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives assisted in the investigation. The property was returned to the owner, Alliance Residential Company, the Gilbert fire department said.

5-alarm blaze in gilbert
Fire crews fight a 5-alarm blaze in Gilbert on April 23, 2016.Fire crews battle a blaze in the Phoenix suburb of Gilbert, Ariz., Saturday, April 23, 2016.Cheryl Evans / The Associated Press via AP

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