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Foam employed in latest strategy to squelch ongoing fire at BioUrja ethanol plant

Tim Shelley
Damaged silos could be seen from MacArthur Highway on the morning of Friday, May 13, 2022. A grain bin explosion rocked the BioUrja ethanol plant the night before, leaving two injured and millions of dollars in damages.

The Peoria Fire Department is bringing in the foam to suppress a nearly week-old fire at the BioUrja ethanol plant on the city's South Side.

The fire started after a grain bin explosion last Wednesday night at the facility.

Interim Chief Shawn Sollberger said foam mitigation efforts started Tuesday night and will continue into today. Allied International, a foam mitigation company, is assisting.

Fires still burn within several damaged silos on the site. Sollberger said the fire department is working with BioUrja to isolate and contain the fires to allow for demolition of the damaged silos as soon as possible.

But Sollberger says the fire and smoke levels are worsening since they began using foam on Tuesday night.

"We're going off of our drone's thermal imager. So the heat index has increased since last night, and we have more smoke showing," said Sollberger on Wednesday afternoon. "So wherever there's smoke showing, there's fire."

Sollberger said the situation remains fluid. He said firefighters will remain on the scene until the facility is deemed stable.

OSHA, the EPA, MABAS 36, the Germantown Hills Fire Protection District, Chicago Fire Department, Pekin Fire Department, Creve Coeur Fire Department, Bartonville Fire Department, and East Peoria Fire Department are coordinating in the fire suppression effort.

WCBU's Jordan Mead contributed to this report.

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Corrected: May 18, 2022 at 5:17 PM CDT
The original grain bin explosion was last Wednesday night, not last Thursday.