Peoria, IL Distillery Fire, Jun 1904


Fire Destroys Mammoth Distillery at Peoria, Illinois.


Fireman Had Trouble to Get Near the Buildings and a Strong Wind Was Blowing.

An explosion which occurred in the 11-story warehouse of the Corning distillery at Peoria, Ill., the second largest in the world, completely wrecked the building. The ruins immediately took fire and communicated to three adjoining buildings, burning them to the ground. Ten men were buried beneath the ruins and burned to death, and six others were seriously injured. The loss on buildings and whisky stored will approximate $1,000,000. The fire spread to the stockyards district, where a dozen large cattle barns filled with cattle for market were burned. The dead are: FREDERICK KNOLL, LOUIS BEHREND, JOHN H. BREKER, JOHN ZIMMERMAN, LOUIS SAX, WILLIAM FINLEY, JR., E. BROWN, M. CROWL, JOHN LEPPIN, WILLIAM FIELD.

The cause of the explosion cannot yet be determined. The warehouse containing in the neighborhood of 30,000 barrels of whisky, was instantaneously a seething caldren [sic]. Large streams ran down grade toward the river, and in a short time there was a foot of whisky in the cattle pens east of the warehouse. The firemen had great difficulty in fighting the flames.

The two fermenting houses were soon food for the flames. They were two structures of good dimensions and both of them were practically destroyed.

The firemen got near the fire with difficulty and the water had little or no effect. A high wind was blowing and fanning the flames in the direction of the Monarch distillery, and for a time it was feared that the fire would sweep along the entire river bank. However, the heroic work of the fireman began to tell and at 7 o’clock the fire seemed under control, with no likelihood of a further spread.

This was the third catastrophe in less than a year which has overtaken the distilling company.

The Indiana Democrat, Indiana, PA 8 Jun 1904