URBANA - The cause of a fire that heavily damaged Mack's Twin City Recycling in north Urbana will go as undetermined for the time being.
A passerby reported the fire at the business at 2808 N. Lincoln Ave. at 1:26 a.m. Thursday.
Eastern Prairie Fire Department Chief Mike Kobel said Friday that an investigator from the Illinois State Fire Marshal's office spent about seven hours Thursday going through the remains of the business but was unable to pinpoint a cause.
"We've got an area of the building we think it started in but as far as a cause we need to dig a little more," Kobel said.
Kobel was on the scene within minutes of the fire being reported in the main building
"It was already through the roof and two-thirds of it was involved," he said.
Kobel said the majority of the fire was knocked down within an hour. No one was present at the business and no firefighters were hurt.
"Because of the cold weather and the amount of overhaul, I called in all the troops," said Kobel.
Eastern Prairie got help from the Carroll, Edge-Scott, Savoy, Thomasboro, Bondville and Cornbelt fire departments. He estimated 30 firefighters were on hand.
Mack's is co-owned by Ken Mathis and his cousin, Bob McCartney Jr. It's been in the family since 1955, started by their grandfather, and concentrates in recycling several kinds of metals.
"The building runs east-west. The office is in the west end. It appears to have started in the east end and moved west," said Kobel.
Kobel said the office area was also heavily damaged.
Behind the office area of the business is a drop-off area where customers drive through and behind that to the east is storage for the metals such as copper, brass and aluminum - "exotic metals that put off some potent fumes when they burn," said Kobel.
"We had a few explosions," Kobel said, noting that besides the metal, there were liquid propane tanks, end loaders and other heavy equipment in the building. Kobel estimated the structure to be about 150 feet by 70 feet.
"It's a wood frame structure with metal siding similar to that one that burned in Urbana (1011 W. University Ave. on Tuesday)," Kobel said. "Once under fire, it will collapse on itself. Now we have to lift the heavy parts off to get in. It doesn't take much heat for it to fold in."
Kobel said they were using Savoy's ladder truck to look from above for hot spots and Mack's employees were using heavy equipment to assist in moving debris.
At 5:30 a.m., he felt they were about "two-thirds through getting everything extinguished. We'll be here a couple hours getting hoses rolled up."
The recycling center is across Lincoln Avenue from the UPS business, where trucks were able to get out and head north.