Apple’s upcoming data center in Mesa, Arizona caught fire Tuesday morning. The data center was previously the topic of conversation when Apple announced that it would be investing $2 billion over 10 years to convert a pre-existing sapphire glass facility into a major data center. The fire was put out quickly, though the building could still be seen smoldering for a time, as fire fighters sought to extinguish all the flames.
The facility previously belonged to GT Technologies, and its original purpose was for Apple and GT Technologies to partner in building a sapphire manufacturing plant, but the plans for the plant were scrapped when GT Technologies went bankrupt. According to NBC 12 News, the local station, the fire took 35 minutes to extinguish, and a dozen people were evacuated from the facility, though other tweets indicate that 30-40 people were evacuated in total. It’s unclear whether that number counts people inside the building, near it, or both.
— ABC15 Arizona (@abc15) May 26, 2015
Luckily, no injuries were reported after the incident. It seems the solar panels on the roof received most of the damage from the fire and were likely the starting point for the flames. However, there is no confirmation as to whether the panels played a roll in the cause of the fire itself. The origin of the blaze is still unknown, but temperatures in Mesa reached 93 degrees on Tuesday, which could be a possible factor. Apple has been known to tout its reliance on renewable energy to power its buildings in the past, and its fervent effort to power its business with solar power is well documented.
The data facility is a large investment for Apple. The center alone was responsible for an expected 150 full time Apple jobs and another 300 construction and trade jobs. Luckily, the building wasn’t a fully operational data center at the time of the fire, and no casualties occurred.