Chemical plant in Illinois explodes, fire prompts evacuations

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An Illinois chemical plant exploded Monday morning, creating a massive conflagration that was visible as far as fifty miles away, reports said. 

The Rockton Chemtool plant, located close to the Wisconsin border about 100 miles northwest of Chicago, caught fire around 7 a.m., forcing the evacuation of anyone within a one mile radius due to possible dangerous chemicals being released into the air, FOX 39 reported. 

“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 told the outlet in a statement. 

“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.”

It’s not immediately clear what caused the fire but enormous dark plumes continued to billow from the facility late Monday morning and were visible as far away as DeKalb, a town fifty miles south of Rockton, the outlet said.

Chemtool manufactures a series of fluids, lubricants and grease products that are shipped across the globe, the outlet reported. 

A resident within the evacuation zone who lives less than 100 yards from the plant told the outlet he was at work when the blaze started. 

“The center of this plume of smoke is dead-center where my property is,” the resident said. 

“The chemicals that go into that building all day long… (I) have no idea what’s going to happen to the neighborhood.”

A local middle school has been set up as an evacuation site.

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