A manufacturing facility in Bluffs was all but completely destroyed by fire Friday afternoon. Multiple fire departments responded to a call of a fire at Westermeyer Industries on Route 100 near Bluffs just after 2 pm yesterday.
12 area fire departments as well as Morgan County ESDA were on scene into the night Friday battling the blaze that consumed more than half of the plant.
An employee who did not wish to give their name said the fire started in a dust collector in the ceiling near their workstation on the far north end of the facility. The employee said it seemed like just minutes after the fire alarm sounded, that first section of the building was being overtaken by flames.
Director of the Morgan County Office of Emergency Management, Phil McCarty confirmed to WLDS News late Friday night that the fire did start in the north end of the facility, however, an origin point could not be determined and a cause of the blaze remains under investigation by the Office of the Illinois Fire Marshal.
Owners Gary and Teresa Westermeyer said all of the employees made it out of the complex safely. Teresa Westermeyer said, “as long as everyone is okay, all of this is replaceable.”
Crews worked into the night to contain the blaze to the main portion of the building, at one point bringing in heavy construction equipment to push in portions of that building in order to separate it from a west side addition, saving it from also being destroyed.
Gary Westermeyer said the west section that survived makes up one-third of the total complex, with the rest being completely destroyed by the blaze. Teresa Westermeyer said she was “so thankful for volunteer firemen” as she and Gary watched as multiple crews battled to knock down the flames and save what they could of the complex.
The Westermeyers started the business in late 2001 which grew into a multi-unit facility spanning more than 100,000 square feet. The Westermeyers said Friday that they will be reaching out to employees very soon after they can get a handle on the situation and what their immediate next steps are. Gary Westermeyer said they plan to regroup and move forward with their business.
McCarty said crews battled the blaze into the night, finally clearing the scene at approximately 9:30 or 9:45 pm. McCarty commended all of the first responders involved in fighting the blaze on their efforts to collaborate to work together so quickly without any issues. He says no injuries were reported during the fight to extinguish the blaze, there were just a lot of tired and sore people when it was finally able to be cleared.
Fire Departments that assisted in fighting the fire included members from North Scott, Meredosia, Arenzville, Chapin, Winchester, South Jacksonville, Jacksonville, Beardstown, Griggsville/North Pike, Pittsfield, Roodhouse, and White Hall.
Also assisting on scene were the Morgan County Office of Emergency Management, Morgan County Dive Team, Winchester EMS, and Meredosia/Bluffs EMS.