An iconic 64-year-old Peoria business is destroyed by fire.
A huge fire engulfed Raber Packing Company, 1413 N. Raber Road.
Limestone Township Fire Chief Larry Gilmore says firefighters were dispatched to the scene at 8:19 p.m. Thursday on a report of a heat detector alarm.
“We pulled up on the scene and started an attack line inside and by that time the smoke had started rolling,” Gilmore said. “The roof started collapsing and (the fire) breached the roof and I pulled all the crews back out.”
Gilmore said among the problems facing facing firefighters were, “the structure itself and water. We’re trying to get enough water on it,” Gilmore said. “I was talking with one of the owners, they’ve got a lot of load in there for Thanksgiving. All the meats that’s in there and packaged meats.”
Also, as Gilmore said, “Grease burns.”
Gilmore said firefighters from ten area departments were on the scene helping to get water onto the fire. Gilmore said crews from as far away as Elmwood, Farmington and Brimfield helped with getting water to the scene. A staging area was set up at nearby Neal Auto Parts on Farmington Road where a long line of fire department tankers could be seen waiting to get water to the scene.
Additionally, Gilmore said, “We’re told there’s some acetyline tanks and oxygen cutting tanks but it’s to the rear of the structure. At the far end of the building there’s a 500-gallon diesel tank. We’re keeping an eye on all that stuff.”
Firefighters also watering down a refrigerated semi next to the building with food inside to prevent the flames from spreading to the vehicle.
According to Raber Packing’s website, the fourth generation business has been in operation since 1954.
“The structure was built many, many years ago, Raber’s been around a long time, it’s been a staple of Peoria for a long time,” Gilmore said. “The owners are here, we’re getting support from them.”
Gilmore said it is not known how the fire started. Crews remained at the scene overnight. As of Friday morning, the structure was still smoldering.