By Steven Solomon
Valley of the Sun Mortuary and Cemetery, 10940 E. Chandler Heights Road, is operating out of its mausoleum’s chapel in the center of the cemetery following a fire that destroyed its main administrative building on Jan. 8.
The cemetery was not affected by the fire and remains open.
There were no employees on duty that Sunday night at the time of the fire, which destroyed the lobby and some conference rooms inside the main building, according to Service Corp. International in Houston, which operates Valley of the Sun through its Dignity Memorial brand, a network of more than 2,000 licensed providers in North America.
“Our fire crews were first on the scene,” said Blas Minor, public-information officer for Chandler Fire, Health & Medical Department. “We had 20-foot flames going through the roof, so there was no reason to send anybody inside.”
Chandler had two ladder fire trucks pumping 1,000 gallons a minute onto the blaze, Minor said. Sun Lakes Fire District and Gilbert Fire and Rescue also responded.
“I’m sure they’re calling it a total loss,” Minor added, noting that fire investigators were still looking at the possible cause.
While damages continue to be assessed, families are encouraged to call Valley of the Sun at 480-895-9232 from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. for information regarding planned services or if they are in need of services. Information about Valley of the Sun is online at www.valleyofthesuncemetery.com.
“We will reopen as soon as possible and remain committed to providing excellent service to our client families,” said Brent Bouche, Valley of the Sun’s mortuary manager. “We are working with area churches to provide visitations and services for the families we serve while our main building and chapel are being repaired.”
According to Valley of the Sun’s website, the cemetery was opened in 1963 when the adjacent area was largely agricultural, with few homes nearby, and it is the only cemetery within Chandler city limits. Valley of the Sun opened its mortuary in the early 1990s, and a new mortuary was built and opened in 2004.
Valley of the Sun is also known as the site of the state’s largest sundial, which has served as a landmark for the local airport and a point of reference for locating the cemetery. It is regarded as a Chandler landmark.