HOOPESTON — Rodney Rogers said his first concern was that all his employees were OK.
The owner of J&R Used Tire Service Inc. told The News-Gazette that he got a call at home Wednesday morning just after the fire started. His next concern: the safety of all the firefighters.
“My prayers are with all the people in Hoopeston, the families and the firefighters, and thankful for everyone who has pitched in,” he said. “I’m sorry for what’s happening to Hoopeston right now. Sorry for all the inconvenience this is causing.
“We are going to do everything we can to make things right. This is like my worst nightmare.”
Rogers said 30 full-time employees worked there, but some of the workers start early.
He said he didn’t want to speculate on what may have started the fire, but it appears it was something to do with what someone was working on. He said some of the machines operate at very high speeds.
Rogers said he has insurance, but he’s not sure it will be enough to cover the cost of the cleanup.
Rogers said he met with all his employees in Potomac on Wednesday morning and told them he would do everything he could to keep the business going.
“My No. 1 concern was them and their families and doing all I can to keep their jobs,” said Rogers, who added that his business offers good-paying jobs from $25,000 to $55,000 a year.
Rogers said he spent most of Wednesday talking to insurance officials and coordinating a restart of the business by Friday if the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency gives him approval to restart. He said other recyclers have stepped up to offer assistance to keep his business going. The company collects tires from almost 1,000 clients in Illinois and Indiana.
“I’m going to do all I can to keep things rolling,” said Rogers, who explained that the facility had a lot of tires but had even more piles of shredded tires.
He said when the business starts up again, he will not keep as many tires and shredded tires stockpiled. He said they will go back to the way they operated when he originally started the business, quickly processing and sending out what they bring into the facility.
“There will be no storing of tires. It all will be processed and gone,” he said.