Huge flames were seen shooting out of a Safeway grocery store in west Phoenix on Wednesday.
It happened at 35th and Northern avenues.
[RAW VIDEO: Fire breaks out at west Phoenix Safeway]
The original 911 call just before 6 p.m. was about a fire in the back room, according to Capt. Rob McDade with the Phoenix Fire Department.
Firefighters arrived and found an active fire in the back. While they were hitting the fire, the roof did partially collapse on them.
"At that time more of the roof caved in," McDade said, "Actually came down on top of them."
Another crew of firefighters got everyone out of the building by going through every office and the entire store, McDade said.
"Safeway employees did a fantastic job. They immediately called 911. Our 911 operators instructed them to get everyone safely out so when our folks arrived on scene, Safeway employees were escorting everybody out almost like a ship captain," said McDade.
The firefighters that were fighting the fire had to retreat and the flames then took off.
"The captain, the seasoned captain, said when he turned around, it was like a haboob. The flame, the smoke, they could hear it rushing through the store," said McDade.
They ran out of the store safely.
No one was hurt and no one was trapped.
Flames roughly 30 feet high could be seen shooting out of the roof.
[SLIDESHOW: Massive fire rips through west Phoenix Safeway]
Hundreds of firefighters responded to the scene when the fire was upgraded to a three-alarm fire.
Firefighters used huge ladders to get better angles on the flames but couldn't prevent them from spreading through the store.
Thanks to firewalls, the flames didn't spread to other businesses.
There was "minimal" damage to a building to the north, according to McDade.
"Yes, we lost a grocery store but luckily everyone got out safely and there were no injuries, " said McDade.
Firefighters said they had control of the fire around 8 p.m.
The rain gauge near the Safeway received 1 1/2" of rain in about 45 minutes.
According to the National Weather Service, there was a downburst about two miles east of the store, which happened about 15 minutes before the 911 call about the fire. Peak winds reached 40 miles per hour.
One system said there were no lightning strikes within 1 mile of the intersection between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m., the National Weather Service said. Another system had one strike within a half-mile at around 5:30 p.m.
"We're looking into that a microburst played a part in this," said McDade. "If we have a lake in this parking lot, if the roof had that same amount of weight that that water creates on that roof is overwhelming."
One woman who lives behind the Safeway store says she heard a huge boom right before the fire started.
"It was either lightning or a bomb. It was one of the two because it was very loud," said Angel Stonebreaker. "It's completely a loss. The whole thing is a loss."
Mother Nature wasn't done with that area. It started to rain just before 9 p.m.
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