CHICAGO (CBS) — Firefighters worked through the night to extinguish a massive blaze at a scrap metal recycling plant in northwest suburban Des Plaines.

The fire started around 11 p.m. Wednesday at Maine Scrap Metal, on Rand Road in Des Plaines.

Huge flames tore through the roof of the factory as the fire quickly spread.

The fire started in the back of the factory. Within a couple hours, half of the 18,000-square-foot building was destroyed.

A neighboring limousine company had to move its vehicles out of the parking lot so they wouldn’t go up in flames.

Firefighters fought the flames from a defensive position, as the sheer amount of materials and chemicals from the scrap yard kept the fire burning for several hours.

“You have metals. You have rubber. You could have chemicals, batteries. There’s all kinds of things in there that, combined under fire conditions, could create hot fast-burning fires” Des Plaines Deputy Fire Chief Pete Dyer said.

The chief also said there were occasional small explosions as water reacted with burning magnesium.

Crews from Chicago and Niles were called in to provide assistance.

The fire was mostly extinguished by about 4:30 a.m., but firefighters expected to stay on the scene another 4 or 5 hours to monitor hot spots to prevent the fire from flaring up again.

“There was a couple areas that we had difficulty getting to. We actually had an end-loader come in and start taking down some of the walls, so that we could get to some of the areas where the fire was hidden. At this time, most of that is extinguished,” Dyer said.

No injuries were reported. Dyer said the owner and an employee were on scene when firefighters arrived, but made it out of the building safely.

The cause of the fire was under investigation.


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