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home : news : putnam   May 25, 2016

8/19/2012 12:24:00 PM
Fire destroys historic Lipton Tea building in Streator

NT Staff

STREATOR, Ill. (AP) — Fire has destroyed the old four-story Lipton Tea building in Streator, The Associated Press reported.

Firefighters were called to the scene late Saturday night and worked throughout the early morning on Sunday to extinguish the fire. Crews from Streator, Peru and Ottawa used aerial ladders to fight the fire, while tankers fro m as far away as Saunemin ferried water to the site, the AP reported.

Ottawa Capt. Buck Manley says firefighters could be at the scene for days to make sure the fire is out. As of 11 a.m., Ottawa and Streator departments still were at the scene.

The Lipton Tea building once was considered for the National Register of Historic Places. The company left Streator in 1964, and the warehouse most recently stored plumbing and heating equipment.

Fire officials did not say how the fire started, but said they’d hold a news conference Monday morning.

A first crew of Ottawa firefighters was on the scene 1-7 a.m., and the relief crew and the rest of the Ottawa firefighters were released from the scene at 11:25 a.m. and got back to the station at noon. Peru firefighters were released from the scene at 7:30 a.m., Manley said. Streator firefighters believed some of the timbers in the building were 14 inches by 14 inches, Manley told the NewsTribune, saying he would anticipate hot spots and possible flare-ups for some time to come, due to the manner in which the building was constructed.

“They call it a Type 4 Heavy Mill construction,” he said. The rear portion of the building, he said, had more poured concrete and was less flammable than the front.

Peru Fire Dept. Capt. Rick Abbott was at the station just after midnight when the Mutual Aid Box Alarm System alert went out to dispatch Streator’s neighboring departments to the address of the multi-story building which. Abbott immediately brought up Google’s maps, to discover the building was on Route 18 downtown quite near the Streator fire department.

“The address for some reason seemed familiar … I went to street view (on Google Earth on the computer) and thought, ‘wow, that’s big.’” Abbott said this morning a couple of hours afterPerufirefighters returned from the scene.

He stayed up for a while and looked up more photos of the old Lipton building, figuring he soon would need to brief fellow firefighters about the structure.

Several minutes went by and the MABAS traffic ceased. About 45 minutes after the first call, the alarm sounded forPeru. Such a big fire, not as big without as much fuel stored as what was inside the recycling business involved in the Westclox fire on New Year’s night, got the adrenaline pumping for the firefighters, Abbott admits.

By the time Abbott had his gear ready and the door open forPeru’s aerial platform truck, firefighters Rob Ankiewicz, Todd Haegele, Jeff Camenisch and Bill Krolak were at the station and ready.

Abbott said the building already was badly damaged by the time firefighters arrived, and the Peru aerial was sent to the back side of the building to try to contain the spread of the fire from the front, where Ottawa and Streator aerial trucks were posted.

The building was deemed unsafe, he said, by the timePeruarrived and he was aware of no firefighters being sent inside, at least from the portion of the building where his crew was. He figured the Peru truck pumped more than 100,000 gallons of water.

“We pretty much flowed water the whole time we were there,” Abbott said of the six hours the Peru firefighters spent at the scene.

Abbott said he wasn’t sure exactly what was inside the building, but he believed some of the building was used for storing plumbing fixtures such as tubs.

Related Stories:
• UPDATE: Authorities probe cause of Lipton Tea fire

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