Illinois chemical factory explodes leading to mass evacuation

Homes and businesses evacuated as plant erupts in large fireball, sending thick black smoke into sky

An explosion at a northern Illinois chemical plant on Monday morning started large fires that sent flames and plumes of thick black smoke high into the air with debris raining on to the ground, prompting an evacuation.

After 7am, emergency crews rushed to the scene of the fire near Rockton, north-west of Chicago, at Chemtool, a company that makes lubricants, grease products and other fluids.

The company says it is the largest maker of grease in the Americas.

Rockton Fire Department Chief Kirk Wilson said about 70 employees who were at the plant when firefighters arrived had been able to leave the building safely, but that one firefighter had suffered a minor injury.

Chemtool’s parent company, Lubrizol, later said there were closer to 50 employees present when the plant was evacuated.

After reports that the plumes of smoke were so big they were being picked up on weather radar, the Rockton Police Department posted an alert at 8.46am.

It said that fire officials had ordered a mandatory evacuation near the plant, with people told to leave homes and businesses and await further instructions.

“At this point in time there is no danger to air quality at ground level,” Mr Wilson said.

He said firefighters stopped using water to extinguish the blaze because they did not want the run-off to enter the nearby Rock River.

“We don’t want an environmental nightmare to occur,” Mr Wilson said.

It could be “several days” before the fluids that caught fire burn out, he said.

Crews from about 40 fire departments that responded to the blaze fanned out to deal with spot fires, grass fires and burning debris that the wind pushed into the community.

Mr Wilson said those fires were caused by burning pieces of cardboard boxes and chunks of wooden pallets, not chemicals falling from the sky.

Trisha Diduch, the planning and development administrator for Rockton, said she estimated that about 1,000 people were affected by evacuation order.

One of those residents, Alyssa King, said that after she walked outside to see black smoke and “small chunks of the building” falling from the sky, she called a police non-emergency line.

“You gotta go,” Ms King was told.

There were no immediate reports of injuries.

“We have confirmed all on site are safe and accounted for," Chemtool said.

"Our concern right now is for the safety of all our employees and the surrounding community.

“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."

Ms King, who lives in an apartment about a kilometre from the site, said she woke to what sounded like slamming doors.

“It woke me up. It was shaking the whole apartment building,” said Ms King, who had been at home with her daughter, 8.

They went to her mother’s house about 3km away and Ms King returned to the apartment to collect the family’s rabbit, Oreo.

As she drove near the plant, she saw smouldering embers along the roadway, there was “burnt material” all over the yard of the apartment building, and there was a chemical smell in the air, she said.

“It was awful,” Ms King said. “I’m terrified I won’t have a home to go back to.”

US Environmental Protection Agency investigators from Chicago were headed to the scene and would issue a statement later Monday, spokeswoman Rachel Bassler said.

The team will co-ordinate with the Illinois EPA, which also was sending a team, spokeswoman Kim Biggs said.

Rockton is in Winnebago County, near the Wisconsin border, about 150 kilometres north-west of Chicago.

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Punjabi Legends Leading player: Shoaib Malik; Top picks: Hasan Ali, Chris Jordan; UAE players: Ghulam Shabber, Shareef Asadullah

Team Sri Lanka Cricket Will be made up of Colombo players who won island’s domestic limited-overs competition

Ten10 Cricket League

Venue and schedule Sharjah Cricket Stadium, December 14 to 17

Teams

Maratha Arabians Leading player: Virender Sehwag; Top picks: Mohammed Amir, Imad Wasim; UAE players: Shaiman Anwar, Zahoor Khan

Bengal Lions Leading player: Sarfraz Ahmed; Top picks: Sunil Narine, Mustafizur Rahman; UAE players: Mohammed Naveed, Rameez Shahzad

Kerala Kings Leading player: Eoin Morgan; Top picks: Kieron Pollard, Sohail Tanvir; UAE players: Rohan Mustafa, Imran Haider

Pakhtoons Leading player: Shahid Afridi; Top picks: Fakhar Zaman, Tamim Iqbal; UAE players: Amjad Javed, Saqlain Haider

Punjabi Legends Leading player: Shoaib Malik; Top picks: Hasan Ali, Chris Jordan; UAE players: Ghulam Shabber, Shareef Asadullah

Team Sri Lanka Cricket Will be made up of Colombo players who won island’s domestic limited-overs competition

Ten10 Cricket League

Venue and schedule Sharjah Cricket Stadium, December 14 to 17

Teams

Maratha Arabians Leading player: Virender Sehwag; Top picks: Mohammed Amir, Imad Wasim; UAE players: Shaiman Anwar, Zahoor Khan

Bengal Lions Leading player: Sarfraz Ahmed; Top picks: Sunil Narine, Mustafizur Rahman; UAE players: Mohammed Naveed, Rameez Shahzad

Kerala Kings Leading player: Eoin Morgan; Top picks: Kieron Pollard, Sohail Tanvir; UAE players: Rohan Mustafa, Imran Haider

Pakhtoons Leading player: Shahid Afridi; Top picks: Fakhar Zaman, Tamim Iqbal; UAE players: Amjad Javed, Saqlain Haider

Punjabi Legends Leading player: Shoaib Malik; Top picks: Hasan Ali, Chris Jordan; UAE players: Ghulam Shabber, Shareef Asadullah

Team Sri Lanka Cricket Will be made up of Colombo players who won island’s domestic limited-overs competition

Ten10 Cricket League

Venue and schedule Sharjah Cricket Stadium, December 14 to 17

Teams

Maratha Arabians Leading player: Virender Sehwag; Top picks: Mohammed Amir, Imad Wasim; UAE players: Shaiman Anwar, Zahoor Khan

Bengal Lions Leading player: Sarfraz Ahmed; Top picks: Sunil Narine, Mustafizur Rahman; UAE players: Mohammed Naveed, Rameez Shahzad

Kerala Kings Leading player: Eoin Morgan; Top picks: Kieron Pollard, Sohail Tanvir; UAE players: Rohan Mustafa, Imran Haider

Pakhtoons Leading player: Shahid Afridi; Top picks: Fakhar Zaman, Tamim Iqbal; UAE players: Amjad Javed, Saqlain Haider

Punjabi Legends Leading player: Shoaib Malik; Top picks: Hasan Ali, Chris Jordan; UAE players: Ghulam Shabber, Shareef Asadullah

Team Sri Lanka Cricket Will be made up of Colombo players who won island’s domestic limited-overs competition

Ten10 Cricket League

Venue and schedule Sharjah Cricket Stadium, December 14 to 17

Teams

Maratha Arabians Leading player: Virender Sehwag; Top picks: Mohammed Amir, Imad Wasim; UAE players: Shaiman Anwar, Zahoor Khan

Bengal Lions Leading player: Sarfraz Ahmed; Top picks: Sunil Narine, Mustafizur Rahman; UAE players: Mohammed Naveed, Rameez Shahzad

Kerala Kings Leading player: Eoin Morgan; Top picks: Kieron Pollard, Sohail Tanvir; UAE players: Rohan Mustafa, Imran Haider

Pakhtoons Leading player: Shahid Afridi; Top picks: Fakhar Zaman, Tamim Iqbal; UAE players: Amjad Javed, Saqlain Haider

Punjabi Legends Leading player: Shoaib Malik; Top picks: Hasan Ali, Chris Jordan; UAE players: Ghulam Shabber, Shareef Asadullah

Team Sri Lanka Cricket Will be made up of Colombo players who won island’s domestic limited-overs competition

Ten10 Cricket League

Venue and schedule Sharjah Cricket Stadium, December 14 to 17

Teams

Maratha Arabians Leading player: Virender Sehwag; Top picks: Mohammed Amir, Imad Wasim; UAE players: Shaiman Anwar, Zahoor Khan

Bengal Lions Leading player: Sarfraz Ahmed; Top picks: Sunil Narine, Mustafizur Rahman; UAE players: Mohammed Naveed, Rameez Shahzad

Kerala Kings Leading player: Eoin Morgan; Top picks: Kieron Pollard, Sohail Tanvir; UAE players: Rohan Mustafa, Imran Haider

Pakhtoons Leading player: Shahid Afridi; Top picks: Fakhar Zaman, Tamim Iqbal; UAE players: Amjad Javed, Saqlain Haider

Punjabi Legends Leading player: Shoaib Malik; Top picks: Hasan Ali, Chris Jordan; UAE players: Ghulam Shabber, Shareef Asadullah

Team Sri Lanka Cricket Will be made up of Colombo players who won island’s domestic limited-overs competition

Ten10 Cricket League

Venue and schedule Sharjah Cricket Stadium, December 14 to 17

Teams

Maratha Arabians Leading player: Virender Sehwag; Top picks: Mohammed Amir, Imad Wasim; UAE players: Shaiman Anwar, Zahoor Khan

Bengal Lions Leading player: Sarfraz Ahmed; Top picks: Sunil Narine, Mustafizur Rahman; UAE players: Mohammed Naveed, Rameez Shahzad

Kerala Kings Leading player: Eoin Morgan; Top picks: Kieron Pollard, Sohail Tanvir; UAE players: Rohan Mustafa, Imran Haider

Pakhtoons Leading player: Shahid Afridi; Top picks: Fakhar Zaman, Tamim Iqbal; UAE players: Amjad Javed, Saqlain Haider

Punjabi Legends Leading player: Shoaib Malik; Top picks: Hasan Ali, Chris Jordan; UAE players: Ghulam Shabber, Shareef Asadullah

Team Sri Lanka Cricket Will be made up of Colombo players who won island’s domestic limited-overs competition

Ten10 Cricket League

Venue and schedule Sharjah Cricket Stadium, December 14 to 17

Teams

Maratha Arabians Leading player: Virender Sehwag; Top picks: Mohammed Amir, Imad Wasim; UAE players: Shaiman Anwar, Zahoor Khan

Bengal Lions Leading player: Sarfraz Ahmed; Top picks: Sunil Narine, Mustafizur Rahman; UAE players: Mohammed Naveed, Rameez Shahzad

Kerala Kings Leading player: Eoin Morgan; Top picks: Kieron Pollard, Sohail Tanvir; UAE players: Rohan Mustafa, Imran Haider

Pakhtoons Leading player: Shahid Afridi; Top picks: Fakhar Zaman, Tamim Iqbal; UAE players: Amjad Javed, Saqlain Haider

Punjabi Legends Leading player: Shoaib Malik; Top picks: Hasan Ali, Chris Jordan; UAE players: Ghulam Shabber, Shareef Asadullah

Team Sri Lanka Cricket Will be made up of Colombo players who won island’s domestic limited-overs competition

Ten10 Cricket League

Venue and schedule Sharjah Cricket Stadium, December 14 to 17

Teams

Maratha Arabians Leading player: Virender Sehwag; Top picks: Mohammed Amir, Imad Wasim; UAE players: Shaiman Anwar, Zahoor Khan

Bengal Lions Leading player: Sarfraz Ahmed; Top picks: Sunil Narine, Mustafizur Rahman; UAE players: Mohammed Naveed, Rameez Shahzad

Kerala Kings Leading player: Eoin Morgan; Top picks: Kieron Pollard, Sohail Tanvir; UAE players: Rohan Mustafa, Imran Haider

Pakhtoons Leading player: Shahid Afridi; Top picks: Fakhar Zaman, Tamim Iqbal; UAE players: Amjad Javed, Saqlain Haider

Punjabi Legends Leading player: Shoaib Malik; Top picks: Hasan Ali, Chris Jordan; UAE players: Ghulam Shabber, Shareef Asadullah

Team Sri Lanka Cricket Will be made up of Colombo players who won island’s domestic limited-overs competition

Ten10 Cricket League

Venue and schedule Sharjah Cricket Stadium, December 14 to 17

Teams

Maratha Arabians Leading player: Virender Sehwag; Top picks: Mohammed Amir, Imad Wasim; UAE players: Shaiman Anwar, Zahoor Khan

Bengal Lions Leading player: Sarfraz Ahmed; Top picks: Sunil Narine, Mustafizur Rahman; UAE players: Mohammed Naveed, Rameez Shahzad

Kerala Kings Leading player: Eoin Morgan; Top picks: Kieron Pollard, Sohail Tanvir; UAE players: Rohan Mustafa, Imran Haider

Pakhtoons Leading player: Shahid Afridi; Top picks: Fakhar Zaman, Tamim Iqbal; UAE players: Amjad Javed, Saqlain Haider

Punjabi Legends Leading player: Shoaib Malik; Top picks: Hasan Ali, Chris Jordan; UAE players: Ghulam Shabber, Shareef Asadullah

Team Sri Lanka Cricket Will be made up of Colombo players who won island’s domestic limited-overs competition

Ten10 Cricket League

Venue and schedule Sharjah Cricket Stadium, December 14 to 17

Teams

Maratha Arabians Leading player: Virender Sehwag; Top picks: Mohammed Amir, Imad Wasim; UAE players: Shaiman Anwar, Zahoor Khan

Bengal Lions Leading player: Sarfraz Ahmed; Top picks: Sunil Narine, Mustafizur Rahman; UAE players: Mohammed Naveed, Rameez Shahzad

Kerala Kings Leading player: Eoin Morgan; Top picks: Kieron Pollard, Sohail Tanvir; UAE players: Rohan Mustafa, Imran Haider

Pakhtoons Leading player: Shahid Afridi; Top picks: Fakhar Zaman, Tamim Iqbal; UAE players: Amjad Javed, Saqlain Haider

Punjabi Legends Leading player: Shoaib Malik; Top picks: Hasan Ali, Chris Jordan; UAE players: Ghulam Shabber, Shareef Asadullah

Team Sri Lanka Cricket Will be made up of Colombo players who won island’s domestic limited-overs competition

Ten10 Cricket League

Venue and schedule Sharjah Cricket Stadium, December 14 to 17

Teams

Maratha Arabians Leading player: Virender Sehwag; Top picks: Mohammed Amir, Imad Wasim; UAE players: Shaiman Anwar, Zahoor Khan

Bengal Lions Leading player: Sarfraz Ahmed; Top picks: Sunil Narine, Mustafizur Rahman; UAE players: Mohammed Naveed, Rameez Shahzad

Kerala Kings Leading player: Eoin Morgan; Top picks: Kieron Pollard, Sohail Tanvir; UAE players: Rohan Mustafa, Imran Haider

Pakhtoons Leading player: Shahid Afridi; Top picks: Fakhar Zaman, Tamim Iqbal; UAE players: Amjad Javed, Saqlain Haider

Punjabi Legends Leading player: Shoaib Malik; Top picks: Hasan Ali, Chris Jordan; UAE players: Ghulam Shabber, Shareef Asadullah

Team Sri Lanka Cricket Will be made up of Colombo players who won island’s domestic limited-overs competition

Ten10 Cricket League

Venue and schedule Sharjah Cricket Stadium, December 14 to 17

Teams

Maratha Arabians Leading player: Virender Sehwag; Top picks: Mohammed Amir, Imad Wasim; UAE players: Shaiman Anwar, Zahoor Khan

Bengal Lions Leading player: Sarfraz Ahmed; Top picks: Sunil Narine, Mustafizur Rahman; UAE players: Mohammed Naveed, Rameez Shahzad

Kerala Kings Leading player: Eoin Morgan; Top picks: Kieron Pollard, Sohail Tanvir; UAE players: Rohan Mustafa, Imran Haider

Pakhtoons Leading player: Shahid Afridi; Top picks: Fakhar Zaman, Tamim Iqbal; UAE players: Amjad Javed, Saqlain Haider

Punjabi Legends Leading player: Shoaib Malik; Top picks: Hasan Ali, Chris Jordan; UAE players: Ghulam Shabber, Shareef Asadullah

Team Sri Lanka Cricket Will be made up of Colombo players who won island’s domestic limited-overs competition

Ten10 Cricket League

Venue and schedule Sharjah Cricket Stadium, December 14 to 17

Teams

Maratha Arabians Leading player: Virender Sehwag; Top picks: Mohammed Amir, Imad Wasim; UAE players: Shaiman Anwar, Zahoor Khan

Bengal Lions Leading player: Sarfraz Ahmed; Top picks: Sunil Narine, Mustafizur Rahman; UAE players: Mohammed Naveed, Rameez Shahzad

Kerala Kings Leading player: Eoin Morgan; Top picks: Kieron Pollard, Sohail Tanvir; UAE players: Rohan Mustafa, Imran Haider

Pakhtoons Leading player: Shahid Afridi; Top picks: Fakhar Zaman, Tamim Iqbal; UAE players: Amjad Javed, Saqlain Haider

Punjabi Legends Leading player: Shoaib Malik; Top picks: Hasan Ali, Chris Jordan; UAE players: Ghulam Shabber, Shareef Asadullah

Team Sri Lanka Cricket Will be made up of Colombo players who won island’s domestic limited-overs competition

Ten10 Cricket League

Venue and schedule Sharjah Cricket Stadium, December 14 to 17

Teams

Maratha Arabians Leading player: Virender Sehwag; Top picks: Mohammed Amir, Imad Wasim; UAE players: Shaiman Anwar, Zahoor Khan

Bengal Lions Leading player: Sarfraz Ahmed; Top picks: Sunil Narine, Mustafizur Rahman; UAE players: Mohammed Naveed, Rameez Shahzad

Kerala Kings Leading player: Eoin Morgan; Top picks: Kieron Pollard, Sohail Tanvir; UAE players: Rohan Mustafa, Imran Haider

Pakhtoons Leading player: Shahid Afridi; Top picks: Fakhar Zaman, Tamim Iqbal; UAE players: Amjad Javed, Saqlain Haider

Punjabi Legends Leading player: Shoaib Malik; Top picks: Hasan Ali, Chris Jordan; UAE players: Ghulam Shabber, Shareef Asadullah

Team Sri Lanka Cricket Will be made up of Colombo players who won island’s domestic limited-overs competition

Ten10 Cricket League

Venue and schedule Sharjah Cricket Stadium, December 14 to 17

Teams

Maratha Arabians Leading player: Virender Sehwag; Top picks: Mohammed Amir, Imad Wasim; UAE players: Shaiman Anwar, Zahoor Khan

Bengal Lions Leading player: Sarfraz Ahmed; Top picks: Sunil Narine, Mustafizur Rahman; UAE players: Mohammed Naveed, Rameez Shahzad

Kerala Kings Leading player: Eoin Morgan; Top picks: Kieron Pollard, Sohail Tanvir; UAE players: Rohan Mustafa, Imran Haider

Pakhtoons Leading player: Shahid Afridi; Top picks: Fakhar Zaman, Tamim Iqbal; UAE players: Amjad Javed, Saqlain Haider

Punjabi Legends Leading player: Shoaib Malik; Top picks: Hasan Ali, Chris Jordan; UAE players: Ghulam Shabber, Shareef Asadullah

Team Sri Lanka Cricket Will be made up of Colombo players who won island’s domestic limited-overs competition