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Waukegan Plant Explosion: Death Toll Climbs to 3 as Search Efforts Continue

Last Friday, an explosion rocked a silicone plant in Waukegan, IL. Responders to the scene were initially able to confirm that the blast killed 1 person, injured 4, and left 2 others missing. Rescuers were initially unable to search for the missing workers due to the presence of hazardous material. On Saturday morning, one of the injured employees died at Loyola Hospital after succumbing to burn injuries. Authorities have identified the remains of one of the missing workers.

What We Know About the Waukegan Plant Explosion

The explosion happened at AB Specialty Silicones 40 miles north of Chicago. After the blast, authorities quickly doused the flames but couldn't risk exposure to hazardous materials during the search effort. As the search for the last missing worker resumes, authorities have yet to confirm what triggered the powerful explosion.

According to officials, the blast caused an estimated $1 million in damage. It shook nearby homes, caused lights to flicker, and had a blast radius which damaged five additional buildings. Initial reports reveal that residents felt the explosion up to 20 miles away. The force of the blast shot debris at least a mile away. Besides a fire in 2009, Waukegan Fire marshal Steven Lenzi noted that the plant has no code violations in the past.

“Now we’re still dealing with the collapse, and we anticipate at least a week to a month before we can get information that can help us determine a cause,” Waukegan Fire Chief George Bridges Jr. said.

Survivors have shared the heroic acts of their coworkers who did not survive the incident. “They saved the lives of their coworkers. They were the ones who were trying to get everyone out,” according to Bridges.

Search Efforts Resume at the Dangerous Scene

On Saturday, authorities brought in heavy equipment to search the remains of the 30,000 square-foot building. Crews used the equipment to move large remains of the collapsed roof while others used shovels to search for the missing workers. Then, on Sunday, searchers located the remains of one of the missing workers. Officials have not confirmed the identity of any of the recovered bodies as recovery efforts for the final missing worker continue.

Arnold & Itkin hopes that investigators can determine the cause of this accident to prevent disasters in the future. Our hearts go out to the survivors, victims, and their families.