Factory Fire

Fire thumbnail KAUZ MGN
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A factory fire on Rockford's southeast side destroys the entire building and disrupts traffic for about four hours.

It's taken several fire companies to battle the blaze at the Finish First powder coating company on 15th Street and 23rd Avenue.

The Rockford Fire Department got the call at 3 o'clock this afternoon and they've been battling the flames ever since.

Rockford Fire Department District Chief Brad Larson says he's seen a lot of fires in his career, but this one is unique.

"I've never had one move this fast and I've been on the job 25 years," Larson said.

Fire fighters say all the employees in the building at the time were able to escape safely. But, they say, the structure itself is beyond rescue.

"We thought we were going to be able to save the east side of the building but it doesn't look like that's gonna happen," said Chief Larson.

Early reports say the fire started above one the ceiling furnaces near a processing station in the plant.

"The ceiling is the part that's really giving us problems," said Larson.

Smoke from the blaze could be seen from miles away and that attracted several onlookers.

"We saw it from Wal-Mart in Loves Park and we still had to do some shopping out this way so we came by to check it out. But, yeah, we saw it from Loves Park," said Claude Files of Rockford.

"We saw it on the news and thought we'd come out and check it out. It seemed pretty exciting, nothing ever really happens around here," said Robert McGrew of Rockford.

Fire fighters say it's likely they'll be battling the blaze until the early morning hours.

Fire officials say there were no toxic chemicals in the building and they do not believe anyone should be concerned about the smoke causing a health risk.