Authorities: Fire at former clock factory in Ill.

January 1, 2012 - 8:08 AM

PERU, Ill. (AP) — A large fire that broke out around midnight in a former clock factory in the northern Illinois city of Peru has burned for hours and prompted mandatory evacuations of some nearby residents, authorities and local reports said Sunday.

An engineer answering calls for the Peru Fire Department says the fire began about the time of New Year's celebrations and firefighters spent hours battling flames but the fire was still not out just before daybreak Sunday.

Engineer Gary Eccles told The Associated Press he had no reports of serious injuries, but one firefighter suffered a minor injury at the scene.

"It's still going," Eccles said by telephone when contacted by AP.

Peru police chief Douglas Bernabei told The News Tribune ( http://b it.ly/rX4RDUy ) earlier that flames began in the northwest sector of the former Westclox clock complex that covers several city blocks. He said firefighters had made progress during the early hours Sunday but did not elaborate.

Eccles said the fire was large and fire units were called from several stations all around north central Illinois.

The report also says people in nearby homes were ordered evacuated as a precaution because of the fire. But there was no immediate report on the number of evacuations or how those were carried out.

The newspaper noted that the building, a landmark in the city that once housed Westclox clock and watch-making operations decades ago, currently houses several retail and small businesses. The complex is about four city blocks long and two blocks wide, according to the report.