Chemtool fire accidentally started in the middle of piping work
ROCKTON, Ill. (AP) – A fire that severely damaged a chemical plant in northern Illinois and forced the evacuation of nearby homes and businesses has been accidentally started, an official said on Friday.
Rockton Fire Chief Kirk Wilson said in a press release the June 13 fire at the Chemtool plant started as contractors replaced insulation in a heat transfer pipe network raised. The system heats the containers used in the manufacture of lubricating greases.
“Right now the most credible scenario is that the scissor lift struck a valve or other piece of piping with sufficient mechanical force to cause the release of mineral oil,” Wilson said in the statement. . “Chemtool operators quickly detected the leak and shut down the boiler. They were in the process of placing containment dams, as well as depressurizing the heat transfer pipe network, when the fire broke out.
Wilson did not say what ignited the oil and he was not available for further comment.
The resulting explosions and fires that burned for several days prompted authorities to evacuate approximately 1,000 residents who lived within a 1.6-kilometer radius of the factory and urge anyone within a 4-mile radius, 8 kilometers to wear masks due to the threat posed by airborne impurities.
While the cause of the explosion is still under investigation, Wilson said there was no immediate indication of suspicious or criminal activity involved.
No one at the plant or in the nearby community, located near the Illinois-Wisconsin border, was injured, officials said.