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CHANDLER, AZ — When an explosion rocked a strip mall in Chandler, four people were hurt and several businesses, including the Sunset Library, were damaged.
"It was kind of scary because it was right near my house and everybody was talking about it,” said Conner Chaires.
Workers inside the library scrambled to figure out what had happened.
"I remember a lot of confusion, you know? It is one of those things that you have no frame of reference. You don't know what just happened,” said Branch Manager Debe Moreno.
Moreno says she was working in an office, in August 2021, against the wall closest to the print shop where that explosion happened.
"Yeah, yeah! It was adrenaline. It was just, you know, you've got to do what you've got to do. You've got to get the people out. You've got to figure out what's going on,” added Moreno.
The damage forced the library to cut back on some services, move staff to Chandler's other three libraries and make repairs.
"They had to replace the roof, all of the ceiling tiles, all of the lighting, damage to the floor. There was a water pipe broken,” added Moreno.
On Valentine's Day last year, the library re-opened.
"It was fantastic opening up that day. The community came back in and they were so happy to see us. We had a big 'Love Your Library' display on the wall that day,” added Moreno.
Moreno walked ABC15 to the wall that was duplicated for Valentine's Day this year.
“The day we re-opened, it was very important to us we share with our community how much we love them and miss them,” added Moreno. "And, then, it kind of turned into a message from the community to us about how much they missed being here and they missed us."
As for the books lost in the blast, the community helped the library replace them.
"They did a day at Barnes and Noble. They did a day here in the parking lot. They came and donated hundreds and hundreds of books,” added Moreno.
While the library is back to being fully operational, as it was before the nearby explosion, the branch manager says now the library is even better than before. And, there is more to come.
"We've just had all of our patio re-done, ADA ramp put in, stairs put in, we are getting benches, a shade canopy, and creating space where we can do programming out on the patio,” added Moreno.
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