“I exited the building, kind of saw it protruding, kind of in a billowing fashion, which was a symptom and a sign of a structure fire,” said Rockford resident Matthew Seger.
Seger is a ‘Kelly Williamson Mobil’ assistant manager who came into work bright and early Thursday to set up shop for Thanksgiving. Just a few minutes later he noticed something odd across South Main Sreet.
“The smoke was a very violent smoke,” Seger said. “It was moving very rapidly, it was a darker colored smoke almost black in nature,” he added. He saw the Rock River Disposal facility was on fire.
“It was obviously billowing out so I got on my phone, called 9-1-1 and notified Rockford Dispatch that they had a possible structure fire,” he said.
When Rockford Fire got there, a garbage truck inside was in flames. Crews also had to worry about flammable liquids and welding materials in the building. Seger had the same concerns. “The other fear of mine was possible gas tanks in there going off,” he said.
Seger isn’t just your average witness. He’s a former Blackhawk Fire Department volunteer.
Thanks to his 9-1-1 call, firefighters were on scene in minutes. “I mean time is of the essence when it comes to hazardous material and fire,” he added.
The building suffered heavy damage, but Seger says he’s thankful no one was hurt. “I’m obviously happy that they had the day off and there was nobody currently in the building when the fire caught. It’s fortunate that nobody got hurt, you can replace buildings, but you can’t replace people,” Seger said.
Estimated damage to the Rock River Disposal building is at $1.2 million. Seger says in the spring he hopes to join the North Park Fire Department as a volunteer firefighter.