An explosion and fire at an IL silicone factory claimed a second victim Saturday when an employee taken to a hospital after the blast died, a local coroner confirmed, and the official death toll is expected to rise to four as authorities suspended the search for two other bodies believed to be in the rubble.
Nine workers were inside AB Specialty Silicones in Waukegan when the explosion happened Friday night.
"I along with the staff from the Lake County Sheriff's Office are very hopeful the three missing workers at the chemical plant are located alive, and all of those injured have fast recovery".
Hazardous materials technicians and technical rescue technicians were also called to the scene to monitor conditions and help search for victims.
Initially, one body was found at the explosion site.
Hours later, another worker who was inside the factory at the time of the blast died in hospital, where they were being treated for injuries.
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No word on what caused the explosion as officials are still investigating.
Plant personnel determined nine people were in the building at the time. Of the surviving employees, four were transported to area hospitals and two declined medical treatment.
Lenzi said 90 percent of the main building was destroyed and there was damage, estimated at $1 million, to five buildings on the property. The company's general manager, Mac Penman, issued a statement Saturday saying: "We are shocked and heartbroken by the tragedy that occurred in our plant last night". The plant was open at the time of the explosion, he said.
Waukegan is about 10 miles south of the Wisconsin-Illinois border and 45 miles north of downtown Chicago.
"The explosion was a big boom and the ground shook", Nancy Carreno, who lives near the plant, told the Lake County News-Sun. She said electricity flickered then came back on.
Over 100 firefighters responded to the blast from at least 30 different fire departments, Lenzi said. We received assistance from numerous fire departments, police departments and our public works crews even assisted at the scene.