Chemical plant explosion in Illinois forces hundreds to evacuate

Chemical plant explosion in Illinois forces hundreds to evacuate


An explosion at Rockton Chemtool in Illinois caused at least one injury and forced hundreds to evacuate (Pictures: EPA/Getty Images)An explosion at a chemical plant in Illinois on Monday morning sent fire and a massive amount of smoke into the air and forced hundreds of people to evacuate. At least one person was injured, a firefighter battling the blaze about an hour northwest of Chicago.
The explosion at Rockton Chemtool in the village of Rockton occurred around 7am local time. Neighbors said they heard several bangs around the time the fire ignited. Homes and businesses within a mile of the site were evacuated.
A firefighter hurt at the scene was transported to a nearby hospital. The firefighter’s condition was not immediately disclosed by authorities.
Rockton Chemtool produces grease, lubricants and fluids including many that are highly flammable and could have sparked the blaze, ABC7 Chicago reported.
Bosses at the chemical plant at 1165 Prairie Hill Road called for an evacuation of 70 workers who were on the job.
Authorities have not announced the cause of the explosion.
By late morning, Rockton Fire Chief Kirk Wilson said the fire did not pose an immediate danger in the community and that firefighters would let it burn itself out in order to prevent environmental issues, according to WREX. 
Rockton Chemtool received no violations in the last three years and had a good compliance record, according to a US Environmental Protection Agency online database.
Rockton officials advised drivers to avoid the area as firefighters tried to put out the fire.
A nearby middle school served as a shelter for evacuees.
The Salvation Army Emergency Disaster Services (EDS) provided fire crews with food and drinks, according to CBS7 Chicago.
‘EDS is deploying a mobile feeding unit, as well as a field kitchen and rapid response unit to provide meals, snacks, and hydration to first responders,’ the Salvation Army said in a statement.
Doctors advise that people living in the area wear masks on Monday and Tuesday in order to protect themselves from the explosion chemicals.
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