A fire that started around 7 a.m. Monday in Rockton, Illinois, about 90 miles northwest of Chicago, is still burning Tuesday, producing a lot of smoke and also a lot of dramatic photographs. Just one minor injury to a firefighter has been reported.
The fire is at a plant that makes greases and other lubricants for a lot of different companies, including in the automotive space. According to local reports, there were explosions Monday morning as the blaze tore through the plant, owned by a company called Chemtool, whose parent company is Lubrizol.
Scores of firefighters from around the area descended on the scene, but have since made the decision to stop spraying water on the blaze, to avoid contamination of local water sources. A mandatory evacuation of everyone within a mile of the plant was also ordered; authorities also said that air quality on the ground was safe.
The explosions were enough to scare at least one poor dog, according to the Rockford Register-Star.
Rockton resident Tom Buffum, who lives within a half-mile of Chemtool, said he mistook the explosions at the plant for thunder.
“After the third explosion he came into the bedroom whining,” Buffum said of the family dog, Krypto. “He was scared.”
Lubrizol said Tuesday in a statement in part:
Lubrizol continues to support local, state and federal authorities in their response to the fire at our Chemtool plant in Rockton. Yesterday, Lubrizol secured and activated US Fire Pump, a third-party, specialty emergency response team with a proven track record, to travel to Rockton for support in extinguishing the fire. Those resources are working actively with local teams, including deploying fire-fighting foam to suppress the fire.
We are providing our full support to our local employees. Pay and benefits will continue for employees while we work through this event, and we are providing counseling support for all those who want or need it. We do expect a total loss of the site.
The cause of the fire is under investigation, and likely won’t be established until well after it burns out. And with authorities making the decision to let it do so on its own, that could mean that the fire keeps going for days. Some local residents decided that the best thing to do is put out lawn chairs and take in the view.