IL Heat Treating Plant Catches Fire

Wednesday, October 31, 2018 @ 01:10 PM gHale

Multiple fire departments battle a blaze for quite a while Thursday at FPM Heat Treating in Cherry Valley, IL.

“This is bad. This is real, real bad,” said FPM Heat Treating employee William Richardson as flames shoot up from the roof of the building. Fire engines from all over the Stateline rushed to the scene to help battle the blaze.

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“The hazards here are number one, we have no water supply so we have 17 fire departments through our mutual aid box alarm system shuttling in water,” said Boone County Fire Chief Kent Hulett who immediately called for a box alarm when they saw the heavy black smoke.

Firefighters were experiencing “zero visibility” inside the building because of that heavy smoke. That’s making it harder to find a source.

A nearby business owner says she was ready to call 9-1-1 when she realized where the smoke was coming from.

“I just saw flumes of black smoke and was instantly afraid that it was something in Cherry Valley by my business’ property,” said Rebekah Rawson. Her business next door is safe.

Chief Hulett said the department has responded to fires at the Cherry Valley plant four times in the last 18 months.

“We’ve had some problems with fires in the ventilation system prior to coming today,” he said. “I suspect that’s how this started but at this time I would only be speculating the cause of the fire.”

Boone County fire officials said their crews used extra caution because of hazardous materials inside, calling the fire a “high risk operation.”

“Our main concern is ever so often, we do accountability of our firefighters because we have firefighters in the back and in the rear,” Hulett said.

Founded in 1979, FPM Heat Treating provides heat treating services to the manufacturing community, according to the company’s website.

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