An explosion at a silicone plant north of Chicago left 3 dead and 1 missing. Footage from a nearby outdoor cam shows a bright inferno funelling into the sky.

The Lake County Sheriff’s Department Facebook PageThe Lake County Sheriff’s Department released an image of the scene after the explosion on their Facebook page, urging people to stay away from the area.
  • An explosion Friday night at a silicone plant in Waukegan – a city 40 miles north of Chicago, Illinois – left at least three people dead and one person is still missing as of Sunday night.
  • A loud sound and the ground shaking in nearby areas alerted the public to the explosion.
  • Local firefighters extinguished the blaze, but local officials aren’t sure what caused the explosion. Damages are estimated to be more than $US1 million.
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At least three people are dead and one other is still missing after an explosion at a silicone plant rocked the city of Waukegan, 40 miles north of Chicago, between 9:30 and 9:45 in the evening on Friday.

CNN reported that the blast happened at AB SpecialtySilicones, a manufacturer of specialty silicone chemicals and raw materials.

Commander Joe Florip of the Waukegan police department told CNN that he would “categorise this as a massive explosion.”
Initially, one body was found at the scene, and the second death occurred Saturday in hospital, according to The Chicago Tribune. Three others were hospitalized for injuries.
Waukegan Fire Marshal Steve Lenzi confirmed on Sunday evening that the body of another missing worker has been found in the debris, Associated Press reported. Authorities are searching for one more body they believe remains at the site.
Waukegan explosionChicago Tribune/Erin Hooley via Getty ImagesDebris can be seen as emergency personnel and others search and clear the scene of an explosion and fire at AB Specialty Silicones chemical plant on Saturday, May 4, 2019, in Waukegan, Ill.
According to Lenzi, the plant was open at the time of the explosion, and officials are working with the plant manager to assert how many employees were working yesterday evening.
One employee was found dead Saturday morning, according to the fire marshal.

The Lake County Sheriff’s Department posted on Twitter that they were aware of “a very loud explosion sound and ground shaking in the Gurnee area” and asked anyone with knowledge of the incident to share that information.

Gurnee is more than three miles away from the explosion site.

Local Twitter users chimed into the sheriff department’s Twitter post with reports of shaking in Round Lake and Lake Villa – areas more than ten miles away from the plant.

A ball of light followed by a fiery inferno

One Twitter user posted a video of the explosion that he captured on his outdoor camera. The (silent) video shows a ball of light followed by a fiery funnel shooting into the sky.

Some 20 minutes after the explosion, the sheriff’s department posted an image of the scene on Facebook, urging Chicagoans to stay away from the area at Sunset and Northwestern avenues.

Another Twitter user shared a drive-by video of the plant after the explosion. It shows debris scattered all over nearby roads, and a cyclone of thick smoke billowing skyward above the plant.

In a statement posted to the sheriff’s county Twitter page, Sheriff John Idleburg noted that this was the second time in recent weeks that first responders in Lake County were called to “extremely volatile, chaotic situations.”

On April 25, dozens of people, including a number of firefighters, were taken to hospital after a chemical spill in Beach Park sent toxic fumes into the air.

“Yesterday, we saw our first-responders again come together with the building explosion in Waukegan. Our firstresponders again answered the call, putting themselves in danger, to help rescue victims involved in the explosion,” Idleburg said Saturday. “I continue to be so very proud of our sheriff’s deputies, local police officers, firefighters, and paramedics. Lake County has a truly dedicated and professional group of first-responders serving them.”

Estimated damages are upwards of $US1 million, Waukegan Fire Marshal Lenzi told CNN. The explosion impacted at least five buildings nearby.

CNN reported that the fire has been extinguished, though the cause of the explosion has yet to be determined.

Silicone – which is used in everything from electrical insulation to cookware to keyboards – and silicone rubber are flame retardant. However, if silicone rubber has successfully ignited it will continue burning, according to the Shin-Etsu Silicone company.

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