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Fire at manufacturing plant in Rockton, Illinois continues burning 24 hours later

The evacuation is ranked as severe, with the threat posing 'significant threat to life or property.'

ROCKTON, Ill. — A fire at a chemical manufacturing plant in north-central Illinois has prompted a mandatory evacuation, according to a statement from the Rockton Police Department. 

RELATED: Illinois National Guard deployed to help at manufacturing plant fire

The industrial fire broke out Monday at Chemtool Incorporated in Rockton, which is located about 130 miles northeast of the Quad Cities. It's east of Interstate 90 and just south of Beloit, Wisconsin. 

The evacuation was originally set in effect for people in a one-mile radius of Prairie Hill Road. That radius later expanded to two miles, according to a statement from the governor of Illinois.  

The alert was listed as urgent and severe, indicating that people south of Chemtool needed to evacuate within an hour and that the threat posed a "significant threat to life or property." 

The evacuation remained in effect Tuesday, according to the Rockton Police Department. 

Read the evacuation alert here

Michael Hunter, a resident who lives in Rockton, said he and his wife took their puppy and evacuated because black foam and ash was falling into their yard.

Credit: Fire in Rockton, Illinois - courtesy of Michael and Val Hunter

Hunter told News 8 that they heard booms coming from the plant for around two hours Monday morning. 

The fire chief of Rockton said it could take multiple days before the fire is completely out, according to a report by WREX.  Officials are letting the fire burn itself out. 

There were 70 employees inside the facility when the fire broke out.  All were able to safely escape.

The area drawn below is the area where residents were asked to evacuate from. 

Those within the evacuation zone map, please head to the Rockton middle school.

Posted by Village of Rockton on Monday, June 14, 2021

A News 8 viewer said some of her family decided to self-evacuate "because they can smell and taste it" in the Rockford, Illinois area.

Credit: Photo from Linda Weakley

Police said area fire departments were at the scene. 

WREX reported that the call came in shortly after 7 a.m., Monday, June 14.  Heavy, dark smoke could be seen for miles. 

WREX reported that Chemtool released a statement saying they did not yet know the cause.  They confirmed that everyone on site was safe and accounted for. 

"Our concern right now is for the safety of all our employees and the surrounding community," said the statement.

MASSIVE COMMERICAL FIRE: Fire crews battle a massive fire at Chemtool Incorporated in Rockton. 13 News Today Anchor Maggie Polsean is on the scene with the latest. For more: https://wrex.com/2021/06/14/4-alarm-fire-breaks-out-at-chemtool-manufacturing-plant-in-rockton/

Posted by WREX-TV on Monday, June 14, 2021

Chemtool manufactures lubricating greases including lithium and polyurea, according to the business website. This plant is located on Prairie Hill Road.