Axium Foods, located in South Beloit, Illinois, produces snack foods for private-label customers as well as under its own brands. The firm was founded in 1960.
President Jerry Stokely told FoodProductionDaily personnel inside the facility when the fire struck at 5:30am on Sunday, January 5, were able to help get the fire under control.
“Our team responded to the fire by following our emergency protocols, performed emergency shutdown procedures and evacuated the building,” he said. “First responders from the city fire department arrived in a very short period of time.”
Stokely added the South Beloit Fire Department quelled the fire and released the building back to Axium Foods management approximately two hours after they first arrived on the scene. Also, despite the scope of the fire, no one was injured.
“Given the amount of activity, this is truly amazing,” he said. “We wish to express our gratitude to the brave fire fighters that responded in our time of need; they are truly appreciated.”
The cause of the fire has yet to be determined. While South Beloit fire chief Ken Morse estimated damages could run up to $2m, Stokely said it is too early to tell the actual extent.
Back to work
Axium Foods expects to return to partial production (approximately 80%) on January 9, Stokely told FPD. He added bringing the facility back to full production could take a few weeks longer; the sub-zero temperatures hitting the Midwest have also been a factor.
Staff at the facility are still in the process of assessing the extent of the damage, the effects of which appear to be confined to one processing line, according to Stokely. Technicians from BMS CAT, a Texas-based disaster restoration company, are aiding with cleanup and equipment recovery.
Stokely told FPD while Axium Foods is working hard to get back up to full speed, its top priority is its people.
“Our first order of business is to ensure the safety and security of our team members, and our second is to meet the obligations to our customers,” Stokely said. “This is an especially busy period for our retail partners, and we will do everything to ensure they receive their orders.”