Large fire leaves future for Monmouth meat plant uncertain

The Illinois Office of the State Fire Marshall is investigating the cause of a large fire that broke out at Smithfield Foods on Monday evening in Monmouth.

The Monmouth Fire Department responded to the fire just after 5:00 p.m. More than 50 firefighters from agencies across the region were on scene working to get the flames out. Monmouth Fire Chief Casey Rexroat said crews ended up staying overnight to control additional flare-ups.

Smithfield, formerly known as Farmland Foods, employs over 1600 people. Monmouth City Administrator Lowell Crow said it also brings in a great deal of revenue from water and sewer use.

Monmouth residents Mickey Leonard and Dawn Curry parked across the street from the plant at a car dealership to watch as the fire unfolded. They were joined by many other residents from the city.

“Everybody is worried about what happened and how long it will be before it’s back open and how much damage it’s going to be,” Curry said.

On Tuesday morning Smithfield executives were on scene to assist in the investigation. Only maintenance workers and administrative personnel were asked to report for duty.

“We do not know what their future work schedule is,” Crow said.

No injuries were reported in the fire. However, one firefighter did go to the hospital for heat exhaustion, but has been released.

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