Axium Foods in South Beloit is coming back bit-by-bit after a destructive fire Sunday.
“We are restarting our plant in phases,” said Axium Foods President Jerry Stokely. “All of the employees are back, but in different capacities. We’re paying them through all this.”
A fire broke out at the Axium Foods plant at 239 Oak Grove Ave. shortly before 6 a.m. Sunday. It is believed the fire originated in an exhaust above one of the fryers at the plant. The fire then spread to the ceiling and roof. Eleven fire departments responded to the fire on an early morning when temperatures plunged well below zero.
No one was injured in the fire.
Initial estimates of the damage to the plant were between $1.5 million and $2 million.
“We’re still in the process of going through that,” Stokely said about assessing the damage. “In things like this, as you peel the onion back, you find things you didn’t expect.”
A professional remediation team was brought in to give the plant a thorough cleaning and otherwise prepare it for a restart. Stokely said it was the same remediation team that was used by another local food company about 10 years ago.
Stokely said he has been impressed with the support from the community and he is especially impressed with the local fire department.
“The fire department response was absolutely phenomenal,” he said.
Axium Foods produces corn-based snack foods under brand names such as Pajeda’s and Fiesta Crunch. The company has been in operation for more than 50 years. Axium Foods employs about 170 people between its two facilities in South Beloit at 239 Oak Grove Ave. and at 15760 Willowbrook Road.