From Tim Olk at Chem Tools 1165 Prairie Hill Road in Rockton, IL

massive black smoke and flames from chemical fire in Rockton IL

Tim Olk photo

massive black smoke from chemical fire in Rockton IL

Tim Olk photo

Excerpts from

An explosion close to Rockton, Ill. took place at a Chemtool chemical plant around 7 a.m. and the smoke continues to go south and southeast.

Around 40 to 45 agencies from the northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin were involved, however there has been little success in putting the fire out.

Chemtool makes industrial lubricants.  About 70 employees were evacuated prior to firefighters arriving. No employees were injured, but a fire fighter was transported for minor injuries. Chemtool has no compliance violations in the past three years, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency database.

Air quality analysis in the area shows there is no danger to air quality at ground level, but for precautionary measure, fire officials believed it was best to evacuate the area.

Officials believe the fire will be a several day event as the oil-based product burns off. Fire officials stopped water operations in order to avoid an environmental disaster caused by water streams. They are concerned about product runoff to a nearby river, but believe it is best to let the product burn off.

A mandatory evacuation affects all residents and businesses in a one mile radius of 1165 Prairie Hill Road. Drivers are advised to avoid the area.