Westermeyer founders vow to rebuild after massive fire destroys most of Bluffs business


BLUFFS —  After a massive fire Friday destroyed two-thirds of Westermeyer Industries, company leaders are looking at future plans for the business. 

Firefighters from multiple agencies from Scott, Morgan and Cass counties were called to the refrigerator- and air conditioner-parts manufacturer  after a fire started in the attic of the facility. 

President Gary Westermeyer said the fire was devastating, but he is thankful no one was hurt. 

“We’ll rise from this,” Westermeyer said. “We have a third of the building intact, so we’ll regroup.”

Westermeyer said employees were working throughout the buildings and were unaware of the fire at first. 

Fire departments from several towns were called as mutual aid after fire roared through Westermeyer Industries in Bluffs. No one was injured, but about two-thirds of the 100,000-square-foot facility was destroyed.

Ben Singson/Journal-Courier

According to Westermeyer, an alarm company called about a smoke alarm that had been triggered. 

“We couldn’t find any fire at first,”  Westermeyer said. 

At this time, Westermeyer said he has not been told of any potential causes of the fire.

Westermeyer and his wife started the business in 2001 before selling it to another company. Though they are no longer the owners, they still oversee the business. 

Fire departments from several towns were called as mutual aid after fire roared through Westermeyer Industries in Bluffs on Friday. No one was injured, but about two-thirds of the 100,000-square-foot facility was destroyed.

Fire departments from several towns were called as mutual aid after fire roared through Westermeyer Industries in Bluffs on Friday. No one was injured, but about two-thirds of the 100,000-square-foot facility was destroyed.

Ben Singson/Journal-Courier

“We don’t have any short-term plans, but we will figure that out,” Westermeyer said. “We will rebuild.”

Flames were still visible about 4 p.m. Friday.

Those at the scene said the buildings were fully engulfed with flames and smoke was visible to people in Jacksonville, about 20 miles away. 

Fire departments from several towns were called as mutual aid after fire roared through Westermeyer Industries in Bluffs on Friday. No one was injured, but about two-thirds of the 100,000-square-foot facility was destroyed.

Fire departments from several towns were called as mutual aid after fire roared through Westermeyer Industries in Bluffs on Friday. No one was injured, but about two-thirds of the 100,000-square-foot facility was destroyed.

Ben Singson/Journal-Courier

Chad Ore was near Jacksonville when he spotted the smoke, before heading toward the area. 

“The firefighters looked like they had it under control,” Ore said.  

Ore said that while he was there it appeared as if the east and south end buildings were gone, though the west side looked to still be standing,  

Fire departments from several towns were called as mutual aid after fire roared through Westermeyer Industries in Bluffs on Friday. No one was injured, but about two-thirds of the 100,000-square-foot facility was destroyed.

Fire departments from several towns were called as mutual aid after fire roared through Westermeyer Industries in Bluffs on Friday. No one was injured, but about two-thirds of the 100,000-square-foot facility was destroyed.

Ben Singson/Journal-Courier

 Ore has two friends and a cousin who work at the building, but they were not at work Friday.  

“They said everyone was out and accounted for,” Ore said.  

Fire departments from several towns were called as mutual aid after fire roared through Westermeyer Industries in Bluffs on Friday. No one was injured, but about two-thirds of the 100,000-square-foot facility was destroyed.

Fire departments from several towns were called as mutual aid after fire roared through Westermeyer Industries in Bluffs on Friday. No one was injured, but about two-thirds of the 100,000-square-foot facility was destroyed.

Ben Singson/Journal-Courier

Kris Allen said she saw the multiple fire agencies drive past the bank where she works, and also had to find a different route home because of road closures.

“I work at the bank in Bluffs and you could see the fire trucks going by — South Jacksonville, Arenzville, Chapin, Meredosia — there were a lot.” 

Fire departments from several towns were called as mutual aid after fire roared through Westermeyer Industries in Bluffs on Friday. No one was injured, but about two-thirds of the 100,000-square-foot facility was destroyed.

Fire departments from several towns were called as mutual aid after fire roared through Westermeyer Industries in Bluffs on Friday. No one was injured, but about two-thirds of the 100,000-square-foot facility was destroyed.

Ben Singson/Journal-Courier

Though she was not at the scene, her husband was and said the place was covered in flames.

“My husband is at the fire right now and he said it’s pretty much gone,” Allen said Friday afternoon. “It doesn’t look good. It’s a tragedy for our community.”  

Fire departments from several towns were called as mutual aid after fire roared through Westermeyer Industries in Bluffs on Friday. No one was injured, but about two-thirds of the 100,000-square-foot facility was destroyed.

Fire departments from several towns were called as mutual aid after fire roared through Westermeyer Industries in Bluffs on Friday. No one was injured, but about two-thirds of the 100,000-square-foot facility was destroyed.

Ben Singson/Journal-Courier

Mayor Linda Sapp agreed. 

Though she was not in the area because she was traveling back from St. Louis, she said she was getting updates. 

Fire departments from several towns were called as mutual aid after fire roared through Westermeyer Industries in Bluffs on Friday. No one was injured, but about two-thirds of the 100,000-square-foot facility was destroyed.

Fire departments from several towns were called as mutual aid after fire roared through Westermeyer Industries in Bluffs on Friday. No one was injured, but about two-thirds of the 100,000-square-foot facility was destroyed.

Ben Singson/Journal-Courier

“My thoughts go out to Westermeyer Industries,” Sapp said. “I’m praying for them and hoping everyone gets out safely. I hope they will rebuild.” 

Crews were on the scene well into the evening. 

A representative from the North Scott Fire Protection District was unavailable for comment Friday.



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