OFFICIAL UPDATE WITH 5 AM PRESS CONFERENCE AT SILICONE PLANT EXPLOSION SCENE IN WAUKEGAN
In a press release last night by Waukegan Fire Marshal Steve Lenzi, at least four people were hospitalized following a massive explosion at a Waukegan silicone plant near the Gurnee border Friday night.
At a 5:00 a.m. press conference on Saturday May 4, 2019, Waukegan Fire Marshal Steve Lenzi said victims were contacted immediately upon arrival of firefighter/paramedics at the scene of the large scale destruction of the AB Specialty Silicones building (3790 Sunset Avenue) at the northeast corner of Sunset Avenue and Northwestern Avenue in Waukegan near the border with Gurnee. Firefighters were also met with an existing wall of flames from the initial fireball; debris in the street; chemicals inside the foundation; and a dangerous, collapsed building at risk of further collapse.
All of Lake County fire agencies responded, and some Cook County fire agencies also responded, according to Fire Marshal Steve Lenzi. Among responding hazmat crews, Arlington Heights (Cook), Mount Prospect (Cook) and Carol Stream (DuPage) responded with hazmat crews.
Lenzi explained that Box Alarms and an Interdivisional Task Force Alarm were activated to manage the large scale incident.
MABAS Division 4 Box Alarm on Box #16-2 activated initially at the 2nd Alarm Level for an explosion and structure fire at 10:03 p.m.
Box Alarm #1699 was activated at 10:21 p.m. (possibly a Life Safety or EMS Box ???)
Fire Box #16-2 upgraded to a 3rd Alarm at 10:56 p.m.
Box #16-40 for hazardous materials at 11:44 p.m.
Interdivisional Technical Rescue Team (TRT) Task Force at 12:05 a.m.
The MABAS Fire Box 16-2 and the Life Safety Box (?) 16-99 struck out at 2:30 a.m. while the Interdivisional Task Force Alarm and Hazmat Box 16-40 remained open.
HazMat Box Alarm 16-40 struck out at 4:27 a.m.
Apparently six people were met by firefighters as they arrived on the scene. Four people were confirmed to have been transported to hospitals. Two people were transported to Advocate Condell Medical Center, and two people were transported to Vista East Medical Center.
There were eight or nine people working at the time of the explosion, and at 5:05 a.m. there were three people missing.
Hazardous materials management at the scene included work to prevent runoff into waterways and soil. The EPA, Lake County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) and multiple police agencies were on the scene to help with scene safety and environmental concerns. Lenzi said there are a multitude of chemicals involved in the plant, including fluorocarbons; but that only about 5 percent of the chemicals at the business involved flammable chemicals.
There was no Shelter in Place Alert activated, according to Lenzi. According to weather conditions reported at Waukegan Regional Airport, wind conditions were East at 7 MPH at 8:55 p.m., North at 3 MPH at 9:55 p.m. and NW 5-6 MPH or calm the rest of the overnight hours through 5:55 a.m. Saturday. Air temperature ranged from 44°F at 8:55 p.m. Friday to 39°F at 5:55 a.m. Saturday. Relative Humidity at the time of the explosion ranged from 73% to 76%.
There was 90 percent damage throughout the AB Specialty Silicones building. Damage estimates are well in excess of $1 million. Also, at least five additional buildings were damaged, including metal debris into other buildings. Neighboring buildings also had blown out windows and blown out doors. Initially there were no known reports of any homes damaged in a neighborhood north of the scene.
The structure of the AB Silicone building was not safe, which is why Technical Rescue Technicians were called as part of the extra alarm firefighting operations.
There were no reported injuries of any firefighters as of 5:05 a.m.
The State Fire Marshal is also involved in the investigation of the cause of the explosion.
Several specialty crews were being released at about 5:00 a.m. Saturday morning.
According to Google Street View maps, there is a large vertical tank that was on the west side of the property in September 2018, but not in June 2012. The vertical tank did not appear to be damaged from aerial views after sunrise.
Explosion captured at 9:33 p.m. Friday May 3, 2019 from security camera positioned west of the scene viewing east (explosion is to left of Gurnee water tower). The blast wave hit the camera about two second after the explosion.
An outdoor camera caught the moment an explosion went off at a Waukegan silicone plant Friday night pic.twitter.com/YRAVc4uR7H
— WGN TV News (@WGNNews) May 4, 2019
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The plume of smoke possible moved from east to west, but this was not initially confirmed.
Explosion on sunset in Waukegan il pic.twitter.com/uzyR3PkUZD
— ClassyMatty (@DeshaunMatthew1) May 4, 2019
— Cesar E (@cmzesar) May 4, 2019
Incredible cloud above the explosion in Gurnee. pic.twitter.com/urFbyZgjcq
— fran tastic (@chi_videodiva) May 4, 2019