UPDATE: Evacuations continue until further notice as Rockton chemical fire continues to burn
ROCKTON, Ill. — Multiple fire departments are responding to a fire at a manufacturing plant in northern Illinois, just south of the Illinois-Wisconsin stateline.
A fire was reported around 7 a.m. Monday at Chemtool Incorporated in Rockton, Ill, according to WIFR, the CBS station in Rockford.
Dark smoke can be seen for miles filling the air around the plant. Chemtool is one of the largest manufacturers of greases and fluids in the world, according to the company’s website.
People living within a one-mile radius of the plant are being evacuated. Trisha Diduch, the planning and development administrator for Rockton believes around 1,00 people are affected by the evacuation order.
In addition, people within three miles of the Chemtool plant are being asked to wear a mask to protect themselves from any particles that may be in the air. Representatives from the EPA are also monitoring the air quality in the area.
Illinois emergency management officials say lead, antifreeze, nitrogen and sulfuric acid are among the chemicals at the facility that could be burning in the fire.
As of 5 p.m., the evacuation remains in effect. Officials did not have an estimate on how long people would be out of their homes.
Several pieces of debris have been found around town, but officials say they do not know what the debris contains. Because of that, they’re asking people not to pick up the debris with their bare hands and use a shovel instead if they need to remove debris.
Those living in the evacuation zone are asked to head to Rockton Middle School and Roscoe Middle School, according to the Rockton Police Department.
Frisellabrations in Rockton is also opening its doors to anyone who needs shelter or access to air conditioning, according to WIFR.
At this time, it is unclear if anyone was injured in the fire. A company spokesperson said everyone on site was “safe and accounted for.”
Crews are still working to determine what caused the fire and if any hazardous chemicals are involved.
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