has been following a story about a huge fire which broke out around midnight at the former Wextclox watch and clock factory complex in Peru (100 miles southwest of Chicago). He reports that

The formidable complex of 44 buildings occupies a 2-block by 4-block area in downtown Peru, located in north-central Illinois.  The fire was still burning out of control at daybreak and some nearby homes were evacuated as a precaution.

The fire department calls the incident a ‘very large fire” and there are units from many other departments in the region on the scene.

The Washington Post National has an article with photos HERE which reports that:

Police Chief Doug Bernabei said at a news conference Sunday that two teenage boys, a 15-year-old from Peru and a 17-year-old from La Salle, were charged with aggravated arson. The older teen, who’s being charged as an adult, appeared in court Sunday and a judge set his bond at $250,000, according to the News Tribune.

LaSalle County State’s Attorney Brian Towne said the two teens entered the building, poured gas from a can they found there onto a boat stored inside, set it on fire and then left, the newspaper reported. Towne said a tip that an anonymous caller gave Peru police led officers to the two suspects.

The fire, which caused propane tanks to explode, prompted a mandatory evacuation of homes near the complex. But Eccles said that by 11 a.m., nearly everyone was allowed to return home. Those who weren’t were being kept out because the smoke from the fire was blowing directly at their homes.

Massive fire in Peru IL

News Tribune Amanda Whitlock Associated Press

Massive fire in Peru IL

Here are recordings from the 5-Alarm fire at the landmark Westclox factory in Peru. The fire was intentionally set by 15 and 17-year old boys who timed it so well that the fire was toned out at 8 seconds after midnight. A LaSalle FF was injured and underwent surgury this morning.

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The 5th Alarm is struck at the beginning of Part 2

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