Arson Charges Follow Fire at Abandoned Processing Plant

Fire Truck

SPRINGFIELD, ILL. (AP) — An adult and an alleged teenage accomplice are charged with setting fire to an abandoned central Illinois food processing plant.

Twenty-four-year-old Richard L. Thomas of Springfield and a 17-year-old boy were charged Wednesday with arson and criminal damage to property in connection with a fire at the abandoned Pillsbury Mills factory.

The State Journal-Register in Springfield reports police and firefighters battled the fire on Nov. 30. The building was deemed unsafe to enter, so crews fought the fire from outside and a stairwell.

The 18-acre plant has been vacant since 2001. There have been complaints of criminal activity, trespassing and piles of debris on plant grounds.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency began a nearly $2 million asbestos cleanup of the site in 2017.

It wasn't immediately known if Thomas or the teen have legal representation.

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