Thick black smoke, visible from 2 miles to the west of a La Salle County landfill, continued to pour out of the burning factory as of 7:30 a.m. By 8:50 a.m., however, the plume was reduced to a much lighter and much smaller amount of smoke, suggesting firefighters were successful in knocking down the flames.
Traffic still was being detoured from the area shortly before 10 a.m. No smoke was visible. Fire and police personnel and city officials were not available for comment at press time.
Jordan Jaggers of Ottawa, an employee of Cimco, said he was called at home by his employers around 6 a.m., advising him the building had caught fire.
Jaggers said the portion of the building in question was a top-floor storage area filled with recyclable plastics and the ceiling had caught fire, though no one he spoken to had any clue as to the source of the fire.
“We don’t know yet,” Jaggers said, when asked about a source or cause.
Jaggers, who has worked at Cimco for a year, said he was confident he still would have a job, “as long as it doesn’t get to the first floor.”
Another employee said firefighters at least initially had the fire isolated to the back of the building, and pallets were burning.
The business recycles metal as well as many other materials that would ignite much more easily than ferrous materials. According to the website for the company that has facilities throughout northern and southern Illinoisand as far away as Minnesota, the facility at 1520 W. Norris Drive accepts aluminum, copper, steel, batteries, appliances and automobiles.
The Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce and Industry said Cimco employs 18 full-time workers and three part-time workers. The facility has been in operation since at least the mid-1990s, and prior to that, was the home of plastic manufacturers American Hoechst, Union Carbide and Bakelite.
Ottawacalled for assistance from Marseilles, Grand Ridge, Utica, Streator, La Salle, Mendota, Naplate, Earlville, Oglesby, Sheridan, Standard, Seatonville and Spring Valley fire departments. La Salle was asked to respond with a ladder truck. Several departments were asked to bring water: Firefighters planned to set up a reservoir.
At 7:21 a.m. fire command called for firefighters to exit the building and to try aerial operations from the exterior.
While firefighters attended to the fire at Cimco Recycling, traffic on U.S. 6 was halted in both directions between Boyce Memorial Drive and Poplar Street. Traffic also was impeded on Leon and Poplar streets and compounded a traffic snarl on Interstate 80 where a truck tipped over at Route 71.
As it happened:
* 6:20 a.m.: An Ottawa firefighter manning the station said a team of firefighters had reached the third floor of the building and had a line in place to make an attack on at least one of the fires burning. Streator firefighters were on the way.
* 7 a.m.: Mendota Fire Department was called, with a request for a specific piece of equipment.
* 7:21 a.m.: Fire command called for firefighters to exit the building and to try aerial operations from the exterior
*7:30 a.m.: Thick, black smoke still was visible from miles away. Earlville and other departments were called, and firefighters planned to set up a reservoir. The availability of water was a concern.
*7:40 a.m.: Smoke continued to rise, and firefighters expected to remain on the scene for “a very long while.”
* 8:24 a.m.: Oglesby,Sheridan, Standard and Spring Valleywere called to bring tankers to the scene.
* 8:43 a.m.: Smoke appeared to be dissipating at the scene.
* 8:49 a.m.: A dispatcher advised Seatonville Fire Department to disregard a call for assistance, stating, “the fire is under control.”
* 9:50 a.m. No smoke was visible and traffic remained detoured. Eastbound drivers were directed from U.S. 6. down Boyce Memorial Drive through Ottawa. Westbound traffic was not permitted to pass the plant.
NewsTribune reporter Kevin Caufield contributed to this report.