Massive Illinois Warehouse Fire Becomes Visible on Weather Radar

A warehouse that caught fire in Madison, Illinois, on Wednesday became so large that the plumes of smoke coming from the building were caught on several weather radars.

The Interco Warehouse, a large metaltronics recycling plant on Fox Drive in Madison, caught fire sometime around 10:30 on Wednesday morning. While the cause of the fire is still unknown, some workers reported they were inside the building when a large explosion occurred, said retired Madison County Fire Chief Mike Foley in a press conference on Wednesday.

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A large warehouse fire broke out in Illinois on Wednesday as the smoke was caught on several weather radars. In this photo, a firefighter tries to extinguish a fire after a missile hit a warehouse on the outskirts of Kharkiv on April 13, 2022, amid Russia's invasion launched on Ukraine. SERGEY BOBOK/AFP via Getty Images

All of the workers were able to evacuate the building safely, but there are reports that one employee was injured. Local news station KTVI reported that the roof of the building collapsed around noon, and several cars in the parking lot of the building also caught fire.

The smoke from the flames reportedly rose up to 5,000 feet in the air, and several meteorologists in the area posted footage on social media that shows the fire appearing on their Doppler radars. One was posted by Chief Meteorologist for KMOV Steve Templeton, who tweeted, "Smoke plume from fire in Madison, IL is showing up on radar."

Meteorologist Angela Hutti also posted a video of the fire on the radar.

Meteorologist Grady Gilman with AccuWeather told Newsweek that a fire of this size showing up on a Doppler radar was actually quite common.

"Today's Doppler radars, they're advanced enough they really can pick up on that type of stuff," Gilman said. "But certainly, you know, something that large like a warehouse fire could be picked up by a radar if it's close enough."

Gilman added that the nearest radar appeared to be only about 30 miles away from the warehouse.

Still, the fire's size was significant. Footage of the scene earlier on Wednesday was shared on Twitter by a local resident, and the flames and plumes of smoke can be seen reaching high into the air.

According to KTVI, the Madison Illinois Police Department issued a red alert at 11 a.m. and all residents within a one-mile radius were asked to shelter in place and keep their air conditioners off and their windows closed.

With the help of at least eight agencies from neighboring Illinois and Missouri counties, the fire was put out around 3:15 on Wednesday afternoon.

Illinois has seen its fair share of large warehouse fires in the last several years. In June of 2021, a large chemical plant in Rockton, roughly four hours north of Madison, caught fire and caused widescale evacuations in the area.

The fire at the Chemtool Plant forced residents in the area to take precautions, such as wearing a mask outdoors, for several days after the fire was out.