Firefighter injured fighting Rockton chemical plant fire

A firefighter was taken to the hospital after suffering a minor injury.
Rockton Chopper Vid Frame 48597

ROCKTON, Ill. — A firefighter suffered minor injuries while responding to a chemical plant fire in northern Illinois.

An explosion was reported around 7 a.m. Monday at the Chemtool Inc. plant location on Prairie Hill Rd. in Rockton, Ill. The village of Rockton is roughly five miles south of Beloit.

“They are a huge employer here in town. And it’s going to affect a lot of families,” said Rockton Mayor John Peterson during a press conference late Monday morning. “This is going to be devastating for a lot of them.”

Emergency crews are battling massive fires currently. The explosion sent huge plumes of black smoke into the air and caused officials to issue mandatory evacuation orders.

Around 150 homes were evacuated directly, according to Rockton Fire Chief Kirk Wilson. Fire officials have also asked homes within a one-mile radius of the plant to evacuate. City officials believe this will likely impact 1,000 people.

News 3 Now crews reported seeing the smoke in Dane County, as they headed toward Rockton.

One firefighter suffered a minor injury. Chief Wilson said he was taken to the hospital as a safety precaution.

No other injuries have been reported. Crews are still working to determine a cause.

Chemtool Inc. manufactures grease products, lubricants and other fluids. It has two locations in Rockton. The Prairie Hill location employs around 70 people.  A company spokesperson said everyone on site was “safe and accounted for.”

“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,” said Alicia Gauer, Senior Director, Global Communications for the Lubrizol Corporation which owns Chemtool.

“We are grateful to our employees, first responders and safety forces responding to this incident.”