La Salle residents told to shelter in place after possible explosion at Illinois chemical plant

A possible explosion has taken place at a chemical plant in LaSalle in Northern Illinois. A shelter-in-place order has been issued for residents in the area.

Firefighters arrived at the scene after a fire prompted a plume of smoke to rise above the plant, which has been evacuated, WGN9 reported.

The fire started shortly after 9am on Wednesday at Carus Chemical. The authorities sent an emergency alert to those in La Salle’s third and fourth wards to shelter in place.

The blaze has been classified as a 4-alarm fire, according to NBC Chicago.

La Salle police said an “explosion” took place in a shipping container at the plant, which is about 80 miles southwest of the windy city.

Carus, a family-owned business started in 1915, produces “supplies products and services for municipal water treatment, wastewater and air purification and soil remediation,” the company site states.

“There was a fire at the Carus Chemical Building. Residents living nearby are asked to please shelter in place,” the city authorities said in a statement.

Police followed up by urging residents to avoid a green substance that had been released after the incident.

“Attention LaSalle residents of the 3rd and 4th Wards, due to recent events, an oxidizer (which appears green in color) has been released in the area. Do NOT touch this substance. If you see this substance near or on your residence it can be deactivated,” the alert said. “In order to deactivate it, you will need a 1:1:1 mixture of: 1 gallon of water, 1 gallon of peroxide, 1 gallon of vinegar.”

The LaSalle - Peru Township High School District 120 said in a Facebook post that “as you may be aware, there was an explosion at the Carus Chemical plant on the east side of LaSalle this morning. Our school campus is safe”.

“We have been in communication with local emergency services to determine the best course of action to maintain the safety and well-being of our students and staff. We have been advised that it is safe to continue school as usual at this time. School administrators will continue to monitor the situation. In the event anything changes, we will inform families as soon as possible,” the district said.

Fire chief Jerry Janick said during a press conference on Wednesday that “at this time, the fire appears to be contained. We had no injuries and everyone from the building was accounted for. Right now, the city also has a Shelter In Place order for all residents to the north and west of the incident for precautionary reasons. We'll assess that shortly”.

“And right now, we're still bringing additional equipment in to assist in the final extinguishment and investigation,” he added.

While the chief said there was significant damage to the structure, he was unable to confirm that an explosion had occurred.