Massive fire erupts at truck repair company in Rockdale

A large fire was burning late Friday afternoon in southwest suburban Rockdale, where black smoke filled the sky.

It took more than an hour – and 20 nearby agencies – to get the fire under control.

"It was a crazy scene," said Lisa Wlodek, who works nearby.

The fire broke out around 4:15 p.m. near South Larkin and Moen avenues at Longhorn Truck Repair, which is a commercial business that repairs semi-trailers.

"It went from a little fire to a blazing, huge fire. Instantly it was bad," said John Plotke, owner of Plotke Asphalt. "Then all of the sudden we heard an explosion."

Plotke’s business neighbors Longhorn Truck Repair.


"All the smoke was at least going where there’s no buildings. If it was blowing this way, all these buildings would have been affected because there was debris in the air falling, so we’re thankful for that," said Plotke.

Plotke described hearing a series of explosions as the fire raged on.

"There’s probably over 100 semis parked throughout the property. It’s a large parcel of land. And it would just transfer to each semi and then we’d have mini explosions of tires going off," said Sgt. Robert Baikie with the Rockdale Police Department.

That wasn't the only challenge facing first responders. When they arrived, there were still employees inside.

Sgt. Baikie said they were trying to salvage what they could.

"Every time we would get one employee out, two more would run in to try and get stuff. So we had to keep going back in to get people out so it was kind of chaotic until we got people out," said Baikie.

No injuries were reported.

It is unclear at this time how the fire started. What is known is that a semi-truck parked on the west side of the building — that wasn't being worked on at the time — somehow caught fire and eventually set the building ablaze.

The fire also spread to dozens of other semi-trucks.

"It’s real close to home. You see this stuff all the time on the news, it’s never right in your backyard," said Plotke.

More than half of the building that caught fire is a total loss, officials said. The east side of the building was not damaged.

Late Friday evening, crews were still on-scene monitoring hotspots.