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1 dead, 2 missing after explosion at chemical plant in Waukegan

One person is dead, four people were injured and two others remain missing after a massive explosion and fire at a chemical factory in Waukegan Friday evening, fire officials said.

Emergency crews responded around 9:30 p.m. Friday to AB Speciality Silicones, 3790 Sunset Avenue in Waukegan, for a reported explosion.

A portion of the factory was leveled by the explosion and heavily involved in fire. Firefighters were met with several injured workers and found heavy damage to the building, fire officials said.

Residents throughout Lake County reported feeling and hearing the explosion and some even felt it from more than 10 miles away.

The remains of AB Speciality Silicones plant in Waukegan after an explosion and fire Friday evening | Screengrab from a video provided by Flexis Aguilar.

Debris from the explosion covered Sunset Avenue near Northwestern Avenue as dozens of fire crews from throughout Lake County and Cook County responded to the scene.

Waukegan Fire Marshal Steve Lenzi said that four people were transported to area hospitals in unknown condition. Nine people were working at the plant when the explosion occurred.

One of the plant workers was found dead in the ruble Saturday morning by search crews and two others remain missing, Lenzi said.

Hazardous materials technicians and technical rescue technicians were also called to the scene to monitor conditions and help search for victims.

AB Speciality Silicones is a manufacturing and distribution company that specializes in producing raw silicone products.

Photo provided to Lake and McHenry County Scanner by Krystle McClanahan.

The explosion damaged at least five other buildings in the area and damage is estimated to be in excess of $1 million, Lenzi said.

Representatives from the Illinois EPA, the Office of the State Fire Marshal and the Lake County Emergency Management Agency were also called to the scene.

Fire officials said that the air quality in the area is safe and there is no harm to residents. The cause of the fire remains under investigation. Lenzi said that there have been no major injuries to any emergency personnel.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of all involved in this horrific incident. Our personnel worked tirelessly through the night to control this scene with help from many neighboring agencies. This was a very large scale team effort,” Lenzi said.


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