Ammonia-Related Blast Injures 1 Employee, Serious Damages Interior at Grecian Delight

Ammonia-related explosion at Grecian Delight on Tonne Rd, Elk Grove Village.

Elk Grove Village police and firefighter/paramedics responded about 7:02 AM Friday July 7, 2017 to a report of an ammonia leak and a ball of fire at a food processing and manufacturing factory, Grecian Delight, 1201 Tonne Road.

An ammonia leak and explosion blew out the side wall near the roof line of a food processing plant in Elk Grove Village Friday morning and left one employee injured.

Large pieces of the wall (a metal mansard roof like material) on the west side of the building blew away from the building, leaving a hole to the inside.

Elk Grove Fire engine 9’s crew on arrival reported heavy damage at the front of the building with a white cloud of vapor coming from inside the building. Air Temperature was 76°F and Wind was West at 9 MPH, according to Northwest Central Dispatch System’s weather notification shortly after 7:00 a.m.

As the first fire engine arrived, Northwest Central Dispatch received a call-in report of a female with chemical burns. Police were initially with the female patient — reported to be conscious and breathing. The female patient, or possibly another person (who was not seriously injured and not transported to a hospital) was initially reported to have been thrown from the blast. That information was not confirmed.

In a morning press conference, Elk Grove Village Fire Chief Richard Mikel confirmed that a female worker sustained burns to her face, but her injuries were not considered life-threatening. She was transported to Alexian Brothers Medical Center for treatment of her injuries.

One firefighter/Hazmat technician was assessed at the scene — possibly for a heat-related episode — and later transported to Alexian Brothers Medical Center.

Ammonia is extremely corrosive to the skin, eyes, and mucous membranes. Respiratory injury to the lungs and breathing passages may appear with delayed symptoms. Pulmonary edema may occur following chemical bronchitis. Delayed respiratory symptoms following exposure to ammonia should not be ignored.

“There was a release of ammonia inside of the factory here. The ammonia reached an ignition source. There’s significant damage to the front wall of the building that’s been blown out, as well as the north side of the building.”

— Elk Grove Village Fire Chief Richard Mikel

Elk Grove Village Fire Chief Richard Mikel also said the wind caused ammonia vapors to affect about four businesses to the east and southeast of the Grecian Delight building. Houses to the west of Grecian Delight were not affected by ammonia vapors. The exact source of the ignition was unknown at the time of the morning press conference.

Some neighbors heard a boom and saw “smoke” or vapors from a chemical reaction. Other said they didn’t hear anything, and were surprised to see all the fire department equipment in their neighborhood.

An employee at a business south of the Grecian Delight building, which is a large commercial building, about 300 feet by 600 feet, reported seeing “smoke” rising from the building. A strong odor of ammonia carried at least as far as Greenleaf Avenue east of Tonne Road, about two blocks south of the explosion.

The explosion also may have caused a water main break in the area of the front of the building. Grecian Delight’s parking lot flooded with water Friday morning, and firefighters had to connect their 5-inch line to a fire hydrant about one block south of the scene.

The water main break and ammonia leak were both contained by 11 a.m.

Elk Grove Fire Chief Mikel said there was construction going on in the area of the building at the time of the blast, but officials early Friday had not confirmed the exact cause of the ammonia leak and explosion. Ammonia is a base that reacts exothermically (releases heat) with acids, such as hydrochloric acid.

Ammonia reacts violently or produces explosive products with chlorine, fluorine, bromine and iodine and some of the interhalogen compounds (bromine pentafluoride, chlorine trifluoride). Mixing of bleaching powder (hypochlorite solution) with ammonia solutions produces toxic/explosive ammonia trichloride vapors. Many other chemicals and metals react explosively with ammonia. The autoignition temperature of ammonia that would cause fire is 1204°F.

Firefighters on scene were overheard reporting serious damage inside the building.

Firefighters reported ammonia reached the sewer system and firefighters were working to dilute the ammonia that was in the sewer system. Ammonia odor was detected emanating from at least one open-grated manhole cover south of the scene near Elk Grove Boulevard. A unit from the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago arrived on the scene just before 11:00 a.m. Friday.

A Chicago Fire Battalion Chief (or Special Ops Chief) and HazMat Unit 512 also responded to the Elk Village Hazmat scene.

Grecian Delight manufactures Greek and Mediterranean food, such as Gyros, specialty meats, pitas, flatbreads, Tzatziki, Hummus, Falafel, and other Mediterranean specialties. Grecian Delight was founded in 1974. About 100 employees were fortunately not near the construction area when the explosion occurred.

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ENGINE(S): E9 E8 Elk Grove Township E11

TRUCK(S): Q7 Des Plaines TL63

SQUAD(S): Hazmat 8 Chicago Hazmat 512

RIT: BC ?? T ??


EMS: A8 A10

MABAS Division 1 Box Alarm on Box #9-A for a “structure fire” (and HazMat incident) at 7:31 a.m.


EMS: Bensenville FPD
Des Plaines Fire Department
Elk Grove Township Fire Department
Wood Dale Fire Department

STAGING: Elk Grove Blvd and Tonne Rd in the church parking lot.

MABAS Division 1 Box Alarm on Box #8 for relief for a HazMat incident, explosion and fire at 10:44 a.m.


ENGINE(S): Mount Prospect Fire Department
Schaumburg Fire Department
Rolling Meadows Fire Department (RIT)

TRUCK(S): Itasca FPD
Palatine Fire Department