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Fire breaks out on roof of Blommer Chocolate factory

Crews navigated a “maze” of ducts and pipes on the roof, and put out a “small fire” after about an hour, fire officials said.

Employees with Bloomer Chocolate Company walk by as fire fighters clean up the scene where a fire broke out at Bloomer Chocolate Company in the 600 block of West Kinzie, Tuesday, April 14, 2020.
Employees with Bloomer Chocolate Company walk by as fire fighters clean up the scene where a fire broke out at Bloomer Chocolate Company in the 600 block of West Kinzie, Tuesday, April 14, 2020.
Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

No one was injured after a fire broke out Tuesday morning on the roof of the Blommer Chocolate Co.’s Fulton River District factory — known for sending cocoa scents adrift through downtown.

Firefighters responded at 11:12 a.m. for black smoke coming from the roof of the factory at 400 N. Jefferson St., according to Chicago Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford.

“They have roasters up there (on the roof) and something malfunctioned,” Langford said.

Crews navigated a “maze” of ducts and pipes on the roof, and put out a small fire after about an hour, he said.

The fire remained outside the building, and Blommer crews have already begun restoration work, Langford said.

Margaret Sofio, Blommer’s chief people officer, said everyone was safely evacuated from the plant, and that there are “no issues.”

Fires at the factory are not uncommon.

In 2017, an extra-alarm fire tore through the factory’s roof, prompting the company’s 200 employees to evacuate to the streets. That fire happened less than two weeks after another blaze broke out in a kiln on the roof.

Despite the factory’s fire-prone history, Langford said the fire department hasn’t been called to Blommer in a “long time.”

In January, Blommer shut down its factory store to make room for an expansion of its manufacturing facility.

The company, founded in 1939, is the largest industrial chocolate manufacturer on the continent and third largest in the world, employing about 900 people across North America and China.

In 2018, the business was sold for $750 million to the Japanese company Fuji Oil Holding Inc.