Large fire at magnesium factory in Madison, Illinois

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By Roche Madden and Staff Writer

MADISON, Ill. – A thick plume of dark smoke could be seen pouring from the site of a factory fire in Madison, Illinois Thursday afternoon.

Firefighters from 35 departments all over the area responded to the fire at Magnesium Elektron. They were afraid the fire would turn into an explosion. Fortunately, no injuries were reported.

Firefighters were concerned magnesium was burning.

“That’s not a good thing at all,” said Madison Mayor John Hamm. “It will get much worse when you apply water to a magnesium fire.”

It was determined oil and trash had caught fire at the facility. Magnesium was not involved as a fuel source for the blaze. The exact cause of the fire has not been determined.

The company makes magnesium alloys used in batteries, cars, electronics, and photoengraving plates. Magnesium Elektron has been at that address since 2003.

The Illinois EPA is investigating. Fox 2 has learned this is not the first fire at this facility to get the state’s attention.

“I’ve been on this department 35 years and there’s probably been several fatalities out here. … From explosions or what have you,” Madison Fire Chief J.S.Bridick said.

Neighbors who live across the street from the plant said they’ve grown accustomed to problems there.

“You kind of get use to it,” said resident Lunita Allen. “It happens a lot; you get use to it.”

An October 2010 fire was the subject of a lawsuit filed by state environmental regulators, who claimed the fire threatened the health of nearby residents. The state and Magnesium Elektron later settled and the company paid a $50,000 fine.

You can see photos from the 2010 fire below, courtesy of the Illinois EPA.

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