Fire at Van Drunen Farms

Firefighters try to extinguish a fire at Van Drunen Farms Tuthill Plant in Momence Sunday morning.

MOMENCE — Nearly two weeks since an early morning fire destroyed a majority of an 80,000-square-foot building belonging to Van Drunen Farms in Momence, the cause of the Jan. 2 blaze remains unknown.

Momence Fire Protection District Chief Jim Spoon said when contacted by The Journal on Tuesday that the Illinois Fire Marshal will be taking additional steps in an effort to learn the cause of the fire.

Spoon said investigators will be equipped to dismantle portions of the building to help determine the fire’s origin.

An estimate of the damage has not been stated. Company officials have stated they believe the building is a complete loss.

The fire broke out just after 6 a.m. Jan. 2 at the Illinois Route 114 facility known as Van Drunen Farms Tuthill production site. It took numerous fire departments several hours to battle the blaze.

Van Drunen Farms grows products and produces food and ingredients which are used across the country as well as across the world. The Tuthill site had about 125 employees. In total, Van Drunen’s employ nearly 700 at numerous sites in an around Momence as well as locations in Manteno and Crown Point, Ind.

At the Tuthill site, the company had much of its freeze-drying process taking place. The site was also used for the blending of dried ingredients.

Lee Provost, an award-winning reporter, has been writing local news stories for The Daily Journal since 1988. He is a lifelong resident of the region. Provost can be reached at lprovost@daily-journal.com.