TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - City of Tucson code permits show there were no fire sprinkler heads in certain areas after construction to expand the building in the Desert Whale Jojoba Company building that burned to the ground early Thursday morning, Nov. 9.
The explosions inside the building were so violent, Tucson Fire officials said, that an adequate sprinkler system may not have made a difference.
"Any time you have what's reported to be explosions, maybe even multiple explosions, a lot of that equipment ceases to work if it's disabled from an explosion," Tucson Fire Department Capt. Julian Herrera said.
The permits showed the Desert Whale Jojoba Company applied to put in more fire sprinklers in the last year.
In a city of Tucson Code Permit dated Apr. 19, 2017, the company applied to make a sprinkler modification and add 33 sprinkler heads.
In a separate permit application dated July 25, 2017, the company applied to add 10 fire sprinklers.
According to Clayton Trevillyan, the city of Tucson Chief Building Official, the permit was issued through the Tucson Fire Department when the company had plans to expand its facilities at 2101 E. Beverly Drive.
Trevillyan said any alteration to the building required a review by TFD. The building did not require fire sprinklers, due to its size and use falling below the requirement threshold.
But because the facility already had them, the expansion forced the company to add sprinklers and relocate certain sprinkler heads. That was mandated by TFD, Trevillyan said.
According to Trevillyan's records, work had only been partially completed on the 33 added sprinkler heads in the northeast corner of the building. The addition of 10 fire sprinklers, applied for in July, had not been completed.
Five employees from the Desert Whale Jojoba Company were hospitalized after the explosion in the building before midnight on Wednesday, Nov. 8.
TFD has filed the permits to request that the building be demolished. Trevillyan said city officials spent Thursday morning assessing the potential effect of the demolition on the neighboring business, just a few inches from what used to be the Desert Whale Jojoba Company building.
The demolition could start this weekend, Trevillyan said.
Firefighters were able to save that neighboring business and keep the fire from spreading.