Almost 100 firefighters from 13 agencies spent some 22 hours at the scene of a fire that tore through Gord Industrial Plastics Inc., in Sandwich, Ill., destroying the business, putting at least 30 employees out of work during the holidays, and disrupting a supply chain that includes the automotive sector.
A police officer on patrol in the small rural town called in the fire about 10:20 p.m. Dec. 16 after seeing smoke and flames coming from the northeast corner of the metal-sided facility, which was two stories tall, Fire Chief Don Rimgale said.
The blaze was fully involved when firefighters arrived, the chief added, and they needed backup from surrounding departments.
Five employees were working at the time at the other end of plant and two were taken to the hospital for minor smoke inhalation, the chief said. Nobody else was hurt as flames consumed the building, bringing down some of the roof.
The fire fed on wooden pallets stacked inside and out, and sporadically detonated propane tanks, local media reported. Wind also reportedly fanned the flames, keeping firefighters busy through the night and watching for hot spots that reignited Dec. 17.
“It was just so, so hard to put out,” Rimgale said in a phone interview. “We were there 16 hours originally and then back six times for a total of about 22 hours. and I don't now if it's over yet. You think it is but you never know. The plastic is just burning itself off.”
Local news reports said owners Jim and Wendy Gord watched the morning of Dec. 17 as firefighters used demolition equipment and a cherry picker to remove debris and combat pockets of fire. The chief said Dec. 18 that nothing was salvageable.
“It was a good thriving business and it's a total loss,” he said. “It's a shame. A bunch of people lost their jobs right around Christmas. The owner doesn't know what he will do yet.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation. The chief said nothing is ruled out and arson investigators have been to the scene and will return Dec. 21.