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Firefighters Extinguish Massive Blaze At Des Plaines Scrap Metal Yard

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. Des Plaines Deputy Fire CHief Pete Dyer said the owner told firefighters he had walked out of his office and noticed smoke coming from the back of the building, so he called 911 and left the building.

Huge flames were tearing through the roof when firefighters arrived, so crews fought the flames from a defensive position.

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

The fire spread quickly, and 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.

A neighboring limousine company had to move its vehicles out of the parking lot so they wouldn't go up in flames. Workers said several vehicles were damaged.

"We got a lot of smoke damage, a lot of melted parts on vehicles that were close to the building, bricks falling off, and water was the most damage," said Mike Piotrowski, with M&M Limousine.

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. The building was a total loss.

Dyer said about 60 firefighters from Des Plaines, neighboring suburbs, and Chicago Fire Department Squad 11 -- the fire crew at O'Hare International Airport -- helped put out the fire.

The cause of the fire was under investigation.

As crews were on the scene of the factory fire, another fire broke out in the kitchen of a duplex in the 2100 block of Chestnut Street in Des Plaines, according to Dyer. That fire was put out by crews from a neighboring suburb who had filled in at a Des Plaines fire station whose normal crew was at the scrap metal fire.

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