Illinois chemical plant explosion, fires prompt evacuations

Photo Beloit Fire Department

ROCKTON, Ill. (AP) — Emergency crews are battling massive fires at a northern Illinois chemical plant that exploded into flames. The Monday morning explosion that sent huge plumes of thick black smoke into the air prompted officials to order an evacuation of residents and business to the south of Chemtool Inc., near Rockton. Trisha Diduch, the planning and development administrator for Rockton, says she estimates about 1,000 people are affected by the evacuation order. There were no immediate reports of injuries, and the company said everyone on site was “safe and accounted for.” The plant manufactures grease products, lubricants and other fluids. Rockton is located in Winnebago County, near the Wisconsin border, about 95 miles northwest of Chicago.