At 9:30 PM last night, an explosion at a silicone plant in Waukegan killed 1 person, injured 4, and left 2 others missing. Waukegan emergency response teams have stopped searching for the two missing workers, as hazardous material in the plant has made the search too high of a risk; two firefighters reportedly suffered minor injuries at the scene. Officials from the city say the missing people are likely dead. Of the nine employees in the plant at the time, seven are dead, injured, or missing.
The explosion occurred at AB Specialty Silicones about 40 miles north of Chicago. Since last night, the fire has been extinguished and hazardous material teams are at the scene. Heavy-duty equipment is getting brought in to remove debris and allow emergency responders to recover the last two workers.
The cause of the explosion has not been determined, but the state fire marshal has committed to helping with the investigation. Joe Florip, a Waukegan police spokesman, said he classified the incident as a “massive explosion.” The blast radius included five surrounding buildings, causing an estimated $1 million in property damage. Witnesses reported that the explosion shook the ground.
Waukegan Fire Marshal Steven Lenzi said there has been one other fire at AB Specialty Silicones since 2009, but says they’ve had “no instances as far as code violations or anything like that with the plant.”
In an official statement, Lenzi said, “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of all involved in this horrific incident. Our personnel worked tirelessly through the night to control this scene with help from many neighboring agencies.”
Our hearts go out to the victims’ families and the survivors of the Waukegan explosion. Our firm hopes the cause of the explosion will come to light soon.