Lake County Coroner Dr. Howard Cooper announced that a second body has been located in the rubble at the site of the Waukegan plant explosion and one other body remains missing.
Cooper said during a press conference that the second body had been found Sunday afternoon by search crews and was in the process of being removed. The first body was located Saturday morning and search efforts continue for the third body, Cooper said.
Waukegan Fire Chief George Bridges Jr. said that the three people who went missing in the rubble alerted their co-workers to the problem just before the explosion occurred, saving several lives.
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.
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 nine people were working at the plant when the explosion occurred. Four workers were transported by ambulances to area hospitals, where one of them later died at the hospital.
Two workers escaped without injury and three others were missing. In total, three people were confirmed dead as of Sunday afternoon and one other person is feared to be dead still in the rubble.
Hazardous materials technicians and technical rescue technicians were also called to the scene to monitor conditions and help search for victims.
Over 100 firefighters responded to the blast from at least 30 different fire departments, Lenzi said. Heavy-duty equipment was called to help remove debris while crews searched for the missing workers.
AB Speciality Silicones is a manufacturing and distribution company that specializes in producing raw silicone products.
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, which has been deemed accidental, remains under investigation. Lenzi said that there were no 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.