UPDATE (5:20 p.m.) The Peoria Fire Department is on track to begin demolition of the BioUrja grain silos on Sunday.

Sollberger said a lot of progress was made during the past 24 hours. He estimated crews flowed between 1.2 and 1.5 million gallons of water in the last nine days.

But it wasn’t until they started using nitrogen gas on Thursday that temperatures finally started to decline.

“Basically, this nitrogen gas is going to displace the oxygen and potentially at least keep the fire in check, but what we’ve seen now over 17 hours its starting to put the fire out,” Sollberger explained.

Sollberger added fire crews were disheartened after not having much success in initial efforts, but the nitrogen gas was a total gamechanger.

“When we’re down there for seven days and you haven’t accomplished your goal, it’s a little defeating. Once we started the nitrogen gas process and we were seeing positive results, you kind of felt the optimism… people were starting to feel like, ‘man we are going to make a difference.’ So yesterday towards the end of the day and the afternoon we felt really good about the situation. We’ve had a switch in optimism, we really have, and we hope we can keep that trend going today into this weekend,” he said.

The decrease in heat has created favorable conditions for an emergency demolition this weekend.

Crews plan to start pouring concrete into the four impacted silos throughout the day Saturday in order to stabilize the structures.

On Sunday, Alpine Demolition Services will begin their demolition processes.

Sollberger explained the demolition will follow a step-by-step process called shearing. The demolition is expected to take five to seven days.

“They’re going to take off small parts of the tower, probably to about three sections…a piece at time. Leave some of the base intact….it will end up with three short structures,” he said.

The Peoria Fire Department will continue to monitor the scene until it is stable and no longer a hazard to the community.

PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Officials with the Peoria Fire Department, BioUrja, and a demolition crew met Friday morning to plan the “systemic” and “extensive” demolition of the plant.

As of 6 a.m. Friday, Interim Fire Chief Shawn Sollberger said the fire department has pulled resources from the plant, but fire crews will maintain the 24-hour fire watch.

Thursday, ground operations opened multiple access points at the plant, giving fire crews the opportunity to flow water and create openings for Allied International, a foam mitigation company, to place its equipment.

Sollberger said nitrogen gas has been flowing into the grain silo for the past 14 hours with desired results.

The demolition of the plant is expected to begin this weekend.