PEORIA — A Peoria institution went up in flames late Thursday night as multiple fire departments responded to a massive fire that destroyed the Raber Packing Co., building.
And while the building and likely hundreds of pounds of meat were destroyed, no one was inside in the building at the time of the fire, according to officials.
Flames shooting more than 50 feet in the air could be seen blocks away by motorists on Farmington Road, many of whom stopped on the side of the road to take pictures. Dozens of fire apparatuses filled the area, many of the tankers which hauled thousands of gallons of water to the building that was near only one fire hydrant. At least 10 departments responded to the fire including the city of Peoria, West Peoria, Timber Hollis, Elmwood, Brimfield, Bartonville, Limestone Township, Logan-Trivoli, Tuscarora and others.
The owner was on the scene but declined to comment. Other members of his family said people had left the facility about an hour before the fire started. Many walked a block off Farmington Road to watch the fire, take pictures and to talk about the Raber brand.
An heat detector alarm was sounded at about 8:20 p.m., according to Larry Gilmore, the fire chief of the Limestone Township Fire Department. When he arrived, there was heavy smoke coming from the building. When firefighters attempted to make entry, they saw some flames inside the building. Then a ceiling caved in, causing him to order the firefighters out for safety. Within minutes, flames began to shoot out of the roof.
Gilmore said he activated the mutual aid system known as MABAS to get more help but also to get more water. With only one hydrant and a building as big and as old as Raber, it was important to have as much water as possible to contain the blaze. Tanker trucks from Elmwood, Brimfield, Logan-Trivoli and other areas shuttled back and forth to nearby hydrants and then dumped their water into large holding pens which then was used to supply the two ladder trucks that were spraying water down on the fire.
When asked why he thought the fire got so big so quickly, Gilmore said, “grease burns” and noted the building probably had several hundred pounds of meat and other items that could help fuel the fire.
“Its an older building. Im told it might have been built back in the late 1950s or early 1960s, so its been a staple around here,” he said. “Its been around a long time. Im sure that our parents and our grandparents probably even shopped here.”
The fire was expected to burn throughout the night, and the state fire marshals office would likely help with an investigation into what caused the fire. A damage estimate wasnt available.
PEORIA, Ill – Over 10 fire crews are battling a fire at Raber Meat Packing Company in Peoria. Flames from the building off Farmington Road can be seen from miles away.
WMBD spoke with the owner who tells us security notified them of a fire shortly after 8pm. The man tells us no one was inside in the building at the time of the fire. The owner also said right now he's worried because he has dozens of Thanksgiving Day orders that he wont be able to fulfill.
Traffic on Farmington Road hasn't been affected by this fire. Investigators are still working to learn the cause of the fire.