A massive explosion at an Illinois chemical plant saw fireballs and smoke billow into the air, and forced the evacuation of hundreds of homes, with one firefighter left injured as a result of the blast.
The blast struck Rockton Chemtool in Rocktown – around an hour north west of Chicago – around 7am local time on Monday morning. Neighbors reported hearing a series of bangs around the time the inferno started, with all homes and businesses within a mile of the blast site now evacuated.
A firefighter injured by the explosion has been taken to hospital, and further updates on their condition have not been shared. Officials have yet to say what may have caused the blast, with an investigation likely to begin when the flames have been quelled.
Bosses also ordered the evacuation of 70 employees who were working at the plant, which makes grease, lubricants and fluids, many of which are highly-flammable, and likely contributed to the fire, according to ABC7 Chicago.
Meanwhile, doctors have advised locals to wear masks all day today and tomorrow to protect themselves from chemicals in the air
A gigantic fireball erupts from Rockton Chemtool on Monday morning after the chemical plant caught fire, injuring one and forcing the evacuation of hundreds of homes and businesses as smoke and flames shot into the sky
The Rockton Fire Department ordered the mandatory evacuation for 70 employees, as well as all residents and businesses in a one mile radius to the Chemtool plant
Firefighters were seen pouring water onto the blaze, as the plant began to collapse because of the intense flames tearing through it
This aerial photo shows the extent of the smoke pouring from the plant following the blast, which is expected to take days before clearing up, according to Rockton fire officials
An aerial photo taken by a drone shows smoke billowing as firefighters from more than 40 Illinois and Wisconsin agencies continue to battle a massive fire at the Chemtool chemical plant in Rockton, Illinois
Pictured: Neal Nuber, of South Beloit, Ill., watches the smoke billowing from a chemical plant fire in Rockton, Ill., on Monday
Authorities say the fire began around 7am, when several neighbors reported hearing small explosions next to the Chemtool plant at 1165 Prairie Hill Rd not far from the Wisconsin border, CBS Chicago reports.
Drivers nearby are being advised to avoid the area as emergency crews continue to work to quell the flames and massive smoke plumage, according to Rockton town officials.
The US Environmental Protection Agency online database shows that the company happens to have a good record when it comes to compliance, having received no violations over the past three years.
Another overhead photo showed thick black smoke belching out of the ruined plant as the fire continued to burn
The plant manufactures lubricants, fluids and other grease products, all of which are flammable and likely contributed to Monday’s massive conflagration
Thick black smoke is seen belching out of the building from a news helicopter. Local residents have been urged to wear masks throughout Monday and Tuesday to protect them from any chemicals in the air
Emergency crews descended on the town of Rockton following the chemical plant explosion Monday morning. The town is about an hour and a half away from Chicago and not far from the Wisconsin border
A loading bay is seen ablaze in the wake of the blast. The plant manufactures multiple highly flammable products which likely contributed to the intensity of the subsequent blaze
The Salvation Army Emergency Disaster Services arrived on scene shortly after fire crews responded to the chemical explosion, providing responders with drinks and food, according to ABC7 Chicago.
‘The Salvation Army Emergency Disaster Services (“EDS”) staff and volunteers are responding to the Chemtool fire in Rockton. 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,’ their statement read.
Investigators with the US Environmental Protection Agency were en route to the explosion site from Chicago and said they would be issuing a statement later in the day, spokeswoman Rachel Bassler told the news outlet.
The agency said they were coordinating efforts with the Illinois EPA, who also sent a team to investigate the scene.
Meanwhile, those close enough to the explosion took to social media to express their horror over Monday’s massive chemical plant explosion.
Massive smoke clouds bellow out from the remains of the Chemtool plant, which happens to have a good record when it comes to compliance, having received no violations over the past three years according to the EPA
‘Huge chemical plant explosion. We’re supposed to evacuate but I’m not leaving my animals!’ wrote Colleen Christian.
‘This is scary!’
‘Bad news, good news!’ another commenter wrote, along with the hashtag #newgarage.
‘Quite the view from our front yard today,’ Brad Martin posted alongside a photo of the smoke plumage hovering over his neat bungalow and immaculate lawn.