Massive fire in chemical plant leaves firefighters injured

Rahul Barman

After only a month after opening of a chemical plant and federal inspection, the plant caught fire on Monday at Northern Illinois. The fire continues to burn as of Tuesday.

The fire caused over 125 homes and businesses to evacuate over one-mile radius. Two firefighters were injured and all 70 workers were able to get out safely according to reports.

"This is a large-scale operation that's going to take some time", said Kirk Wilson of Rockton Fire Protection District.

Bob Snyder, the vice president of operations at the parent company Lubrizol Corporation, addressed on Tuesday stating that the focus is on the community. He said, "We're going to do everything we can to do the right thing and support, not only Chief Wilson and all the other resources in terms of addressing the fire and affecting the right emergency response, but also in supporting the community in the aftermath."

He further added, "We apologize to the people that had to be evacuated whose property and other things may have been impacted by the fire."

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Overnight, due to concerns of using water to extinguish the fire could send runoff into the nearby Rock River, half a million gallons of oil burnt. This caused a huge contamination of the surrounding area. May possibly be one of the main reasons to evacuate such a large area. On Tuesday, teams trained in industrial fires set up barriers to protect that water and doused the fire with a special oam to get it under control.

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"We are doing everything we can to both supress the fire, protect our air quality and protect our water quality for the long haul," said Dr. Sandra Martell, the public health administrator for Winnebago County.

Although the black smoke had mostly cleared from the sky on Tuesday, the authorities were asking anyone within a 3-mile radius to wear a mask outdoors as officials continued to test the air and water quality.

Prior to the incident, the US Department of Labor said that the US Department's Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OHSA) had opened a health investigation at the plant at Rockton, Illinois, on May 20. The OHSA, as of Tuesday, said that it is going to open another investigtion on what caused the explosion at the plant on Monday. No further information will be available to the public until OHSA has completed its internal investigation, the agency said.

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