Huge Explosion At Chemical Plant Outside Chicago

A huge fiery explosion occurred at a chemical plant outside Chicago early Monday morning.

The fire at Chemtool Incorporated in Rockton, Illinois, about 80 miles northwest of Chicago, began between 7 and 7:30 am, according to local news reports.

The blaze erupted in huge billowing, burning clouds over the facility, followed by a wall of black smoke that blocked parts of the sky and the view beyond the plant.

The Rockton Police Department issued a mandatory evacuation order for residents within a one-mile radius of the chemical plant due to potentially dangerous chemicals released in the fire.

An evacuation site has been set up at Roscoe Middle School, police said. Drivers have also been advised to avoid the area near the plant.

“The fire in Rockton has caused smoke to cover the eastern third of Ogle County. Close windows and doors if you live east of Meridian Rd and monitor your indoor air quality. Please do not call 911 unless you’re having an emergency,” the Ogle County Sheriff said in a statement Monday morning.

A large number of fire trucks could be seen responding to the incident in videos posted to social media.

The cause of the explosion is still unclear.

The company manufactures and distributes fluids, lubricants, and grease products internationally.

Chemtool issued a statement confirming that all employees of the plant are safe and accounted for, according to CNN affiliate WREX.

“We have confirmed all on site are safe and accounted for. Our concern right now is for the safety of all our employees and the surrounding community. As a precaution, authorities have evacuated residents in a one-mile radius of the site,” Chemtool said.

“We do not yet know what caused this incident, but we will be working with local authorities and with our own risk management team to determine what happened and identify any corrective actions. We will share more details as they are known,” the manufacturer added.

About 70 onsite Chemtool employees were evacuated without injuries. One firefighter was treated for injuries, Rockton Fire Chief Kirk Wilson said during a press conference.

Wilson added that “there is no danger to air quality” after Rockford’s HAZMAT team conducted air quality tests.

One Chemtool employee described his experience fleeing the plant to Rockford’s WTVO.

“Everybody that got us out of there — they were on top of it. We had plenty of time to get out. Everybody got out. It was pretty well organized. There’s a lot of grease, oil, and fluids in there. It’s gonna burn for a while. If it was going to explode, it would’ve already done it. Those small explosions that everyone’s seeing are drums of fluid or grease,” the employee reportedly said.

Debris from the explosion fell from the sky onto nearby cars, and ashes rained down on residential areas south of the plant as far away as DeKalb.

“As a precaution, if you can see the smoke plume from the Chemtool fire, please stay indoors; close your windows and doors; and turn off your air conditioners. If you have a medical emergency, call 911. More information will be coming as our state-wide, coordinated response continues,” the City of Rockford said.

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