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Fire at Rockton manufacturing plant is contained; evacuation order remains in effect

The fire started around 7 a.m. on Monday, June 14 at Chemtools Incorporated in Rockton, Illinois - about 130 miles northeast of the Quad Cities.
Officials give air quality update for Rockton residents on Wednesday

Officials give air quality update for Rockton residents on Wednesday

Posted by Eyewitness News on Wednesday, June 16, 2021

ROCKTON, Ill. — The evacuation order remains in effect for residents surrounding the fire at a Rockton, Illinois manufacturing plant. 

The fire started around 7 a.m. on Monday, June 14 at Chemtools Incorporated in Rockton, Illinois - about 130 miles northeast of the Quad Cities.

An emergency evacuation was ordered for residents living in the area. It was advised that people also wear masks to prevent the inhalation of soot, however that recommendation has since been lifted. 

The Winnebago County Health Director says the air quality is stable, but until they have further testing from the EPA they do not want people to return to their homes.

Thanks to Winnebago County Health Department (Rockford, IL) for putting together this food bank resource for those affected by the evacuation zone.

Posted by Village of Rockton on Wednesday, June 16, 2021

"What still remains unknown is what is the composition of the particulate matter on the ground. The debris, the dust, the ash," says heath director Sandra Martell.

She says until those results come back they don't know if it's safe for residents to do things like start their air conditions, clean their pools, or let their children and animals play outside. 

About 1,000 people have been impacted by the evacuation order, according to Rockton's planning and development administrator. Rockton Fire officials are asking for patience as they continue to work on the fire, but say they are making good progress.

"This is going to be a long process of getting deep inside of this building that has  been destroyed by fire," says Rockton Fire Chief Kirk Wilson, "Moving materials around so the firefighting crews can do proper extinguishment and proper containment."

He adds there may be flare-ups as crews move materials around and smoldering with continue for several days due to the sheer size of the plant, but hazardous materials are contained and no toxins have been released into the waterways, including the Rock River.    

The cause of the fire is still under investigation. 

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