Fire burns through Forest View recycling plant near Stevenson

ByMegan Hickey WLS logo
Wednesday, May 2, 2018
Fire burns through Forest View recycling plant
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More than 100 employees who work at the yard were desperate to find out the extent of the damage.

FOREST VIEW, Ill. (WLS) -- A large fire burned in south suburban Forest View near the Stevenson Expressway overnight.

Firefighters managed to contain the blaze about eight hours after it started, but the work was far from over at the LakeShore Recycling Plant in the 6100-block of Canal Bank Drive.

Forest View Fire Chief Larry Moran said his department was on the scene around 10:30 p.m. Tuesday, after an employee called about a massive rubbish fire. A scarcity of water in the area presented a serious challenge.

"There's only one hydrant down in this area. The next one is basically almost a mile away. So water is huge issue. The water that we do have is of limited quantity, which is why we called Chicago for their boat. They can supply a lot more water than we are through our hydrants over here," Moran said.

Firefighters from 13 departments were called in to help. The flames burned through the facility and six semi-trailers, which are used to transfer garbage.

The thick smoke was visible from the Stevenson early Wednesday morning. Fortunately, the wind pushed it towards the canal and away from drivers on the crowded expressway.

The fire was under control before 6 a.m. Wednesday, but fire crews worked well into the day putting out hot spots.

More than 100 employees who work at the yard were desperate to find out the extent of the damage. Police blocked off the area Wednesday, keeping people about a mile from the site.

O'Neil Yard Manager Steven Schmieding pulled up to the yard at 5:30 a.m. Wednesday, like he does every morning. But this time, he was greeted by smoke.

"I think it was in the back where they chip wood and sort the garbage. God only knows with the heat and everything we've had. I think that's the possibility - it was the wood maybe," Schmieding said.

A steady stream of workers were turned away from their jobs all morning long.

"There's like six different companies down there. Block Company's down there, the scrap yard's down there. There's a couple little trucking companies. So yeah, there's a lot of people. LakeShore has a lot of employees. They work around the clock," Schmieding said.

Anxious and tired, most turned back for home.

"We're going to go home now, I guess. We'll find something to do and give it a try again tomorrow," Schmieding said.

No injuries were reported.

Moran said his department has responded to at least three fires at this facility in the past, but this blaze is by far the largest.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.