- 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.
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.
Sir Please find the footage from my outdoor cam pic.twitter.com/YgIdWPaeTG
— Bhushan (@ibhushanjoshi) May 4, 2019
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.
— Jesse Pradriguez (@JacidJr) May 4, 2019
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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