no estimate for when fire will be out

no estimate for when fire will be out


ROCKTON, Ill. (WREX) — Emergency crews are battling a massive fire at a northern Illinois chemical plant that exploded into flames. The Monday morning explosion that sent huge plumes of thick black smoke into the air prompted officials to order an evacuation of residents and business to the south of Chemtool Inc., near Rockton.

Chemtool issued the following statement this afternoon:

“Additional specialized emergency response resources have arrived at our Chemtool site in Rockton, Illinois. They will be diligently working alongside local emergency response to extinguish the fire and limit the impact on the community. We will provide an update as soon as the fire has been extinguished. We do not have an estimate on timing at this juncture.

The precautionary evacuation of residents in a one-mile radius of the site remains in effect, under the direction of local emergency response. Lubrizol health and safety experts are completing a thorough analysis of all materials burned. We are working with third-party experts and government agencies on environmental air and water monitoring. We are not aware of any test results that show health risk other than the short-term irritation one would normally experience in the presence of smoke. We will continue to complete additional testing and have released all product data information to local authorities.

The Chemtool site has been safely operating in Rockton since 2008, employing ~200 employees who support manufacturing of industrial fluids and finished greases used in a variety of lubrication applications. As previously confirmed, the team members on site at the onset of the fire exited the facilities safely without injury.

We will work with local authorities to assist them in determining the cause of the fire. We regret the disruption to area residents and are grateful to our employees, first responders and safety forces who have responded to this incident.”

This follows an earlier statement from the company:

“At approximately 7 a.m. today, local emergency personnel responded to a fire at the Lubrizol Corporation’s Chemtool Facility in Rockton, Ill. We have confirmed all on site are safe and accounted for. Our concern right now is for the safety of all our employees and the surrounding community. As a precaution, authorities have evacuated residents in a one-mile radius of the site.

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. We will share more details as they are known. We are grateful to our employees, first responders and safety forces responding to this incident.

Chemtool’s website says the company “is a premium manufacturer of grease in the Americas.” The company’s corporate headquarters, a research laboratory and one of its production facilities is located in Rockton. 

Its products include fluids, lubricants and greases manufactured for a wide variety of purposes. Chemtool serves industries including agriculture, automotive, construction, energy, food, industrial, marine, mining, metalworking and steel industries. 

The company was founded in 1963 by James Athans and was initially privately held. Chemtool moved to its current location in Rockton in 2009. It’s been through several ownership changes and was most-recently purchased by the Lubrizol company in 2013. 

The plant that manufactures grease products, lubricants and other fluids. Rockton is located in Winnebago County, near the Wisconsin border, about 95 miles northwest of Chicago.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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