January 2nd, 2022
A large fire broke out in an 86,000 sq. ft. manufacturing building in Momence, IL around 6 AM on the 2nd of January 2022. The fire started in this freeze-dried food ingredient production facility and quickly spread across the 45,000 sq. ft. wood truss roof area due to steady northwest winds.
The rural, volunteer paid-on-call fire department could only mount an exterior fire attack due to the risk of collapse of the wood truss roof. Multiple local fire departments provided mutual aid and fought the fire for over nine hours, including several visits the next day to extinguish hot spots. About 75% of the facility was consumed. Videos from local television stations showed no sprinklers installed in the wood roof area. There was no one in the plant at the time of the fire and the cause is under investigation.
The company has four additional production plants in the local area. The company president was quoted to say there are plans to transfer production to other sites, but the goal is to rebuild the plant. The fire will cause company priorities for 2022 to be significantly modified.
Automatic sprinklers remain the best defense against fire. In addition, it is critical to establish a pre-incident plan with the local fire service, including documentation of the building construction that is present. The fire department should visit at least annually. Also, an effective Business Continuity Plan (BCP) should be in place to help recover after a disaster such as a major fire. Risk Logic Inc. offers BCP analysis as an additional loss prevention service to customers.