December 08, 2021
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Fire damages part of Peru trucking warehouse

Managers look to get trucks on the road, 150 people to work

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Double D Express President Keith Piano learned at 3:57 a.m. Saturday the Peru trucking business was on fire. Within 90 minutes, firefighters had the blaze under control, and by 10 a.m. he was learning about the extent of the damage.

An hour later, he and his office staff members were fielding calls or placing inquiries to find an office space for revving up the trucking business again, and he had just met with a fire-cleanup team and his insurance adjuster.

"We've had quite a few people reach out to offer a hand," Piano said.

Saturday afternoon, he was hoping to get trucks and trailers from Peru back onto the road within a week. He did not immediately know how long some of the 150 employees and office staff would be affected or how exactly they would be affected. He noted that Double D also has a terminal in Springfield, Ill.

Though there's no fire damage in the main offices in Peru, smoke and soot caused damage throughout the office and to computers and other equipment. The entire warehouse and terminal received smoke damage as well, he said.

"I didn't realize there's that much soot from smoke," Piano said, remarking on the thickness of the layers of soot.

After the smoke cleared, seven large overhead doors at the north end of the building along May Road north were either fire-damaged or cut for fire-fighting access.

Tim Robey, operations manager, said a spotter truck — a tractor with a half cab and a hydraulic fifth-wheel lift for moving trailers around the terminal — burned in the north-end wash bay. In addition to that bay and expensive piece of equipment, fire destroyed the tool room and the mechanic-shop office.

Safety manager Alan Detmers said fire not only gutted the interior of the north end of the building, some beams were bent and contorted a bit. Peru firefighters said the heat in the tool room, as well as the shop office loft, was extremely high, in the 800- to 900-degree range.

Piano confirmed that there is structural damage but said he has not been allowed in to see the space. He's leaving the damage estimate up to the insurance adjuisters and the investigation of the cause up to the fire marshal. Though he did not provide a dollar figure for the damage and expenses for adjusting operations in the wake of the fire, he did say some reconstruction will be required at the north end of the building.

As of noon Saturday, he said he did not know the cause of the fire or where exactly it began.

Peru Fire Department and several neighboring departments spent Saturday morning before dawn and after sunrise at a fire inside the Double D Express warehouse.

A Peru police officer on patrol noticed smoke called for fire trucks, and dispatchers also quickly called for city snow plows and salt trucks to make the scene safer for firefighters, according to Peru Fire Department staff.

Multiple departments, including La Salle, Oglesby, Utica, Standard, Spring Valley, Troy Grove, Mendota, Ladd and Cherry, responded after Peru Fire Chief Jeff King and Peru firefighters arrived and found the north end of the building "heavily involved" and called for a 3rd-alarm Mutual Aid Box Alarm response. King reported significant fire damage to the workshop and parts area, and smoke damage throughout. Firefighters said the building was locked down quite well and they had to cut into overhead doors to gain entry.

Peru firefighters on Sunday said they were not aware of the cause of the fire.

La Salle fire chief Andy Bacidore said his crew, four firefighters who showed up with the ladder truck, spent about three hours at the scene. He said though they had the ladder truck, his firefighters spent much of their time working inside the smoke-filled building.