Batavia fire at metal factory destroys building

March 6, 2014 (BATAVIA, Ill.)

Overnight, firefighters watched for the possibility that the Master Cast building could collapse, but as of 5:30 a.m., eight hours after the fire began, it was still standing.

The fire at the metal factory on the corner of 1st Street and Mallory Avenue brought about 16 neighboring fire departments.

Aerial ladders were set up on all four corners of the building to fight the fire, which had fully set ablaze both floors of the two-story factory, Batavia Fire Chief Randy Deicke said.

"We expect the building to collapse, or at least one floor to collapse, at some time," Deicke said just after midnight.

No one was injured or inside the factory when it caught fire, Deicke said.

The fire appears to have started on the side of the building that faces 1st Street. Everyone had gone home for the night. The company manufactures aluminum castings, which contributed to the challenges that firefighters faced.

"The building uses a lot of natural gas in their production, so we had natural gas burning in the building at the time we got here. We had Nicor come to the scene and they shut the gas off," said Deputy Fire Chief Randall Banker.

The cold also posed a challenge for firefighters. Three of them were taken to the hospital with injuries from falling on the ice. None was seriously hurt.

Master Cast's owners were there overnight checking out the progress that firefighters were making and planned to be back Thursday morning to survey the damage.

Firefighters describe what's left of the inside framework as twisted from the flames that raged overnight.

Fire and police investigators spent Thursday morning searching through the rubble of the Master Cast factory and interviewing its owners.

Police say they have no reason to call the fire suspicious at this time. Machine operator Jesus Najera said he knows that part of the building well.

"Just machines," he said. "No fire or anything."

Najera says he didn't notice anything out of the ordinary when he left his shift Wednesday evening.

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.

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