Westclox Fire of 2011/2012

Westclox Fire 2011/2012
So on New Years Eve around 11:55 we heard and explosion and giggled stating that it was too early for fireworks. After 12:30 it was time to go to bed. That's when we heard all the sirens blaring. Now normally  on new years eve, you think it's a bad accident. But the sirens kept going. So we turned on the scanner to hear that the Westclox building was burning. Now this is a huge I mean huge building over 2 blocks wide and 4 blocks long. The building was built in the 1890's. There is a lot of history in the building for these 2 small towns. Firefighters from over 20 towns came in to fight this fire. They have still called in many tanker trucks from everywhere.
Back of Westclox 1902
So to many this is like losing a loved one. Westclox brought a lot of jobs to this town. And when it closed in 1980 brought on a depression. The town really started to dry up. The young moved on the older stayed and the businessmen that built their lives here struggled. I know for my father and grandfather had the contract with them. For years, they took the pictures for the catalogs and its parts. Not to mention all of their families.
Just how big this building is.
So when you hear how people are taking this hard I can side with them. It's an odd pain. We always wanted something to come off the building but not like this. Here are a few news bits and photos of the story.
Still burning 48 hours later
Firefighters have contained the blaze that destroyed part of the massive Westclox building, but officials say it may be a week before it is extinguished.
Peru Police Chief Doug Bernabei says the fire that broke out around midnight on New Year’s Eve at the Westclox complex in Peru is smoldering. He says the city’s fire department and departments from 15 other towns battled the fire with aerial trucks on Monday.
Bernabei says there is no danger of the fire spreading from the middle building to other buildings in the complex. The last of Westclox neighbors evacuated from their homes were allowed to return yesterday morning.

Duncan says the three buildings make up the property and that it was the middle one that was burning. He says that building has pretty much collapsed. He says they knew they weren’t going to send firefighters inside.

Rolls of film, plastic, and some Styrofoam were among the materials burning. He says there weren’t any chemicals.

Several blocks north and west of the building were evacuated but most of those areas have been reopened. Several homes on Franklin Street will remain evacuated.

La Salle Firefighter Steve Smith had to undergo surgery after being injured during the set up according to La Salle Fire Chief Andy Bacidore. He’s in good condition at Illinois Valley Community Hospital.

A 17-year-old boy from La Salle and a 15-year-old boy from Peru have been charged with aggravated arson.

Thursday is the next court appearance for the accused co-arsonist Steven Gallagher.

The teen from La Salle will officially be charged with one count of aggravated arson Thursday morning in La Salle County Court. He and a 15-year old boy from Peru are accused of getting into Westclox Saturday night thru an open window. They then allegedly found a boat that was being stored in the building and set it on fire.

La Salle County State’s Attorney Brian Towne says the pair was arrested just a couple hours after the fire started. He says Peru Police used information from an informant to arrest the two teens in the arson.

Gallagher is being held at the La Salle County Jail on 250 thousand dollars bond. The 15-year old is in the county detention home. He’ll be in court Tuesday morning.

Towne wouldn’t say if either teen had a criminal history.

A nice video showing the size of the building. I just read that firefighters have used 1 millon gallons of water on the fire. Thats enough to fill a pool 267 ft. long by 50 ft wide and 10 ft deep!

Some of the sources can be found on my twitter. Please feel free to visit our local paper for story's and updates.


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