Rockton Fire Chief Kirk Wilson: Several-Day Event Involved with Chemtool Chemical Plant Fire

Rockton Fire Protection District Fire Chief Kirk Wilson in a press conference said they decided to let product burn with the concern that streaming water on the fire 300 meters from the Rock River would cause an environmental nightmare. YouTube Tips ⓘ

Fire was already through the roof when the first fire engine arrived on the scene about 7:00 a.m. Monday, June 14, 2021 at a chemical plant fire at Chemtool Incorporated, 1165 Prairie Hill Road in Rockton. There was no chance to stop the fire from destroying the building, according to Rockton Fire Protection District Fire Chief Kirk Wilson. Windy conditions Monday morning helped the fire spread rapidly through the building.

Wind Conditions

NWS Janesville-Rock County

NORTH 7 MPH 6:45 AM
NORTH 5 MPH 7:45 AM
NORTH 6 MPH 8:45 AM
NORTH 8 MPH 9:45 AM
NORTH 12 MPH 10:45 AM
NORTH 9 MPH 11:45 AM
VARIABLE 13 MPH G 24 MPH 12:45 PM
NORTH 14 MPH G 23 MPH 1:45 PM
NORTH 12 MPH G 24 MPH 2:45 PM
NORTH 13 MPH G 20 MPH 3:45 PM
NORTH 12 MPH G 17 MPH 4:45 PM
NORTH 14 MPH G 20 MPH 5:45 PM
NORTHEAST 13 MPH G 18 MPH 6:45 PM
EAST 7 MPH 7:45 PM




The initial 9-1-1 call was for smoke in the building, and all employees were evacuated before firefighters were arrived.

One firefighter suffered a minor injury, but was able to walk to an ambulance. No employees and no residents were injured.

There were no air quality issues at ground level at the plant. Several agencies were assisting with monitoring air quality, including a Rockford hazmat crew, during the day Monday.

https://twitter.com/cshimala/status/1404460006737653760




There were some spot fires and grass fires that occurred during the day that were ignited from falling, burning debris. Rockton Fire Protection District Fire Chief Kirk Wilson, the debris falling from the sky was likely building material that is not likely a toxic substance from the petroleum product that was burning. However, he said recon crews will pickup debris throughout town. Wildland firefighters from Lake County (MABAS Division 4) were also assigned to extinguish spot fires in Rockton.




About 150 homes were evacuated by “strong suggestion” … there was no mandatory evacuation. According to Fire Chief Kirk Wilson air quality conditions near the ground near the building were safe.

Between 40 and 45 fire agencies from northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin with up to 175 fire suppression personnel on the scene.

A MABAS Division 8 Box Alarm #11 to the 2nd Alarm was activated at 7:10 a.m. Monday.

The Box Alarm was elevated to the 4th Alarm at 7:25 a.m.

A special request for ladder trucks was activated at 7:34 a.m.

The Box Alarm was elevated to the 6th Alarm at 7:48 a.m.

An Interdivisional Box Alarm was activated, requesting the MABAS Division 4 Wildland Task Force from Lake County at 11:15 a.m.

Later in the afternoon an Interdivisional task force from MABAS Division 6 (communities near DeKalb) and MABAS Division 3 (near north suburbs near Des Plaines and Northbrook).

A special request for a light (illumination) truck from Chicago Heights (MABAS Division 24) was also requested.

A Rolling Meadows ladder truck also responded as part of a MABAS strike force at about 9:10 p.m. Monday.

The Chemtool building was completely consumed, and the fire chief said the fire could continue to burn for several days. Initially, the cause of the fire was unknown. No employees had been interviewed prior to the press conference, according to Fire Chief Kirk Wilson.

Smoke plume from Chemtool extra alarm fire in Rockton, Illinois north of Rockford
Smoke plume from Chemtool extra alarm fire in Rockton, Illinois north of Rockford as viewed from Nickol Knoll west of Payton Hill in Arlington Heights — 59 miles east-southeast of the Chemtool plant.

Rockton Chemtool Plant smoke plume from 59 Miles away near Payton Hill Arlington Heights. YouTube Tips ⓘ

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CARDINAL NEWS | Secondary Fires, Evacuations from Chemical Fire at Chemtool Plant in Rockton, Illinois

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