The remains of AZZ Galvanizing Services, 625 Mills Road, in Joliet Township after an early morning fire destroyed it Sunday, April 29, 2012. | Brett Roseman~Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 1, 2012 8:11AM
JOLIET TOWNSHIP — Fire destroyed the AZZ Galvanizing plant just outside of Joliet early Sunday.
The factory at 625 Mills Road was reduced to rubble, crumpled aluminum walls, and caved-in roofs.
Everything in it was destroyed, said Kirk Kelly, deputy chief with the East Joliet Fire Department.
The building was full of flames when firefighters arrived at about 1:30 a.m., and it took five hours and six fire departments to get the fire under control.
“We’ll be here all day putting out hot spots,” Kelly said, as swirls of smoke continued to rise from the rubble in the building behind him at 10:30 a.m.
Investigators from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the state fire marshal’s office will be investigating the fire, Kelly said. But no cause had been determined as of late morning.
AZZ Galvanizing employed 64 people who galvanized steel at the factory. The building stretched about 300 feet along Mills Road and the operations, including a storage yard, went back about a block. The plant is in an unincorporated area of Joliet Township west of Rowell Avenue.
Stanley Moore, who lives across the street from the factory at the corner of Linne Avenue, said he was woken at 2 a.m. by the sound of the fire trucks at the scene.
“It was really hot,” Moore said. “When I opened my door I could feel the heat. ...It felt like someone had a big heater that was blaring at you.”
Moore said the entire front of the building was in flames when he saw it.
“I thought they might have to evacuate us,” he said.
No one was evacuated. Water in a creek behind the factory was checked for possible contamination by the Will County Emergency Management Agency, Kelly said. But the creek showed no sign of pollution from the fire.
Helping East Joliet put out the fire were departments from Joliet, New Lenox, Lockport, Elwood and Manhattan. Other departments also were on the scene sanding by if needed.
Moore also said he saw smoke at the plant at about 9 p.m., “but I thought there was someone there working.”
He said he saw the smoke coming from an area on the east end of the factory, and that is where investigators believe the fire started.
At the scene at about 11 a.m. was Israel Udave, who said through a translator that he just lost his job at the plant Saturday.
“I worked here 17 years,” said Udave as he stood on a corner of Mills Road looking at the damage. He said the plant was busy and equipped with new machinery. Udave said he heard about the fire from a relative and came to see what had happened.