A lot can go wrong when welding and metal fabrication is involved. Let’s watch a real incident that I personally saw.

The Incident

As I drove toward Morton, IL to go to my weight loss group, I could see huge billows of smoke rolling into the air. I was still in Washington, IL, and heading toward whatever was on fire. I assumed it was in the commercial area of Morton to be throwing smoke in such huge amounts.

As I got closer and closer, I could see that it was Morton Welding that was on fire, and I was astonished at the amount of black smoke that was being thrown from the building. The traffic was moving at a crawl so I had the opportunity to snap some photos of the smoke. As I got to where I could see the fire itself, the flames looked like they were shooting 100 feet in the air. It was approximately 6:15 pm that I drove by.

The traffic was horrible and I was astonished at the number of people that were pulled alongside the road and standing outside of their cars just watching this scene.

The fire began at approximately 5:50 pm on Thursday evening. Reportedly, a pile of plastic pallets had caught on fire, then caused several propane tanks to explode. I have never learned how these pallets caught fire in the first place. Still, protection is vital when it comes to metal fabrication. Employees said that the blasts were so large that they could feel them rumble the building.

Thankfully, all of the second shift employees escaped unharmed. Morton Welding employs approximately 500 people in the facility, and approximately 130 people were working on that shift.

The damage to the building was not as bad as it could have potentially been. The exterior metal was melted by the heat of the flames. After a few hours, the employees returned back to work, and only a handful of night-shift employees weren’t able to work that evening due to damage.

It could have been a terrible loss to Morton had the fire been worse. The company has been in this town for 40 years and makes parts for such large companies as Caterpillar and John Deere. We are thankful that no one was seriously hurt and that it was under control quickly!