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Investigators looking into cause of North Valley convenience store fire

Peoria Fire Department
Fire at the Stop 'N Save convenience store, 800 NE Jefferson in Peoria's North Valley neighborhood.
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Peoria Fire Department Battalion Chief Lore Baxter said it’s too soon to tell if a fire at Stop 'N Save convenience store is in any way related to a homicide there earlier this month.

“They’re just starting the investigation now,” Baxter said Wednesday morning at the scene in the 800 block of NE Jefferson.

Multiple crews responded to store at 8:20 a.m., finding heavy black smoke coming from the top of the building. Baxter said it took about 20 minutes for firefighters to extinguish the flames.

“We have heavy damage to the structure; this fire burnt through the roof. We have truss damage, heavy smoke and fire damage inside,” said Baxter.

210929 Stop N Save fire 1.jpg
Joe Deacon
Peoria Fire Department crews battle a blaze Wednesday at the Stop 'N' Save convenience store at 800 NE Jefferson Street.

The store was the site of 19-year-old Martez Robertson's murder on Sept. 20. A memorial vigil was held there for Robertson last week.

Store owner Kinjal Patel said he and his sister noticed the store seeming a little smoky about an hour after they opened for the day.

“I was just saying to her to open the back door. She tried to open the back door and we see more smoke,” he said. “Then one customer stopped by and said, ‘your roof is on fire.’ I came outside and saw it and called 911; we don’t know about anything after that.”

Patel said everyone was able to get outside and no injuries were reported. The fire department’s incident report estimates damages at $150,000, and it’s not yet clear when the store might reopen.

Baxter said flames damaged a significant portion of the roof while interior damage is mostly from smoke and water flowing from the roof.

She said the type of building made it particularly dangerous for firefighters as a potential collapse hazard.

“With the heavy roof damage that we had and this being a lightweight truss construction, the environment for firefighters to enter and actually do firefighting operations from the inside cannot happen,” she said. “These are the kind of structures that firefighters get killed in going into at times. So we set up our truck companies right away and we flowed water from them to contain the fire.”

Updated: September 29, 2021 at 1:31 PM CDT
The fire department’s incident report estimates damages at $150,000.