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Fire injures one person at US chemical plant, shelter-in-place ordered

19 January 2023

A fire at a chemical plant in northern Illinois, US on January 11 injured one person and resulted in nearby residents being told to shelter-in-place as fire crews worked to contain the blaze. The incident happened at the Carus Chemical facility in the city of LaSalle, around 100 miles south west of Chicago.

Image: LaSalle Fire Department
Image: LaSalle Fire Department

A large plume of black smoke could be seen from several miles away as fire crews arrived at the scene just after 09:00 local time. The fire is believed to have been caused by an explosion at the chemical plant.

Local police said the blast caused significant damage to the plant itself. Additional equipment was called to scene to assist in the firefighting efforts and help contain the blaze to the facility itself.

There were no injuries initially reported in the incident and all employees were accounted for. However, Carus Chemical later said it had been made aware of one injury resulting from the after a third-party contractor who was onsite during the incident later sought medical attention. LaSalle Fire Chief Jerry Janick also reported that one firefighter was injured but was treated and released.

During the incident, police warned locals to not touch a “green-coloured oxidizer” that had been released. A shelter-in-place was given until firefighters were eventually able to extinguish the blaze a few hours later.

In a statement, Carus Chemical said the fire started in the warehouse area of the manufacturing plant, and first responders had it under control by noon. As clean-up efforts began, Carus said it would work with the US EPA and Illinois EPA along with other regulatory groups for guidance on clean-up efforts.

According to its website, Carus produces an oxidant used to treat drinking and waste water, phosphates for corrosion control, and carbon capture products used for air purification.

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