People within 3 miles of Rockton chemical fire asked to wear masks

ROCKTON, Ill. — Local health officials in the county where a chemical fire has been burning all day Monday are telling people within three miles of the fire to wear masks as a precaution.

The fire at Chemtool in Rockton, Illinois, just across the Wisconsin state border from Beloit, has been burning since 7 a.m.

Chemtool is one of the country’s biggest producers of grease and lubricants. Illinois emergency management officials say it’s possible chemicals like lead, antifreeze, nitrogen and sulfuric acid could be burning in the fire.

Because of that, officials with the Winnebago County Health Department are asking people within three miles of the plant to wear a face covering if they’re outside.

People within one mile of the plant were evacuated earlier Monday morning. Officials say those evacuations will remain in place until further notice, and concerns about cool temperatures could lead officials to ask more people to leave the area or shelter in place.

The plant sits next to the Rock River, leading fire departments to limit their use of water in fear of toxic runoff reaching the water.

Officials with the EPA are currently in the area monitoring air quality.