PIPER CITY — Investigators are now looking into the possibility that a lightning strike was the cause of a soybean plant fire last week in Piper City.
“We are still awaiting the final report from insurance investigators, but there is a possibility that a lightning strike started the fire,” Illinois State fire marshal’s office spokeswoman Milly Santiago said.
About 30 people were evacuated and classes in the Kempton-based Tri-Point school district were canceled Thursday as a precaution after the fire was reported early Thursday morning at the Precision Soya plant. A hazardous-materials team from the Champaign Fire Department assisted the Piper City Fire Department and several neighboring departments.
Piper City Fire Chief Tony Lane said there never was a chemical threat to residents, but officials wanted to err on the side of caution because of concerns about a fumigant at the facility. Fire crews were on the scene from 6:30 a.m. until about 4:30 p.m. Thursday.
There were no injuries reported and an official damage estimate is still not available.