Explosions occur far too frequently in the United States. They’re a nearly daily occurrence.
Set a Google alert for “explosion,” and watch as your inbox becomes inundated with updates.
Here is an in-depth look at a huge explosion that occurred Friday night in northern Illinois:
Death toll hits 3 in Waukegan explosion
From Fox 6 News, Milwaukee; WGN-TV, Chicago, and CNN: Search and recovery personnel found the body of another employee in the wake of Friday’s Waukegan explosion, bringing the death toll to three with one person still unaccounted for.
The third victim was found Sunday in the rubble of AB Specialty Silicones chemical plant in Waukegan, a city with a population of about 90,000 located almost halfway between Chicago and Milwaukee. Waukegan fire marshal Steve Lenzi said at a news conference Sunday night that the body was found as first-responders resumed searching in hazardous conditions in the remains of the plant.
“This is, by no means, over until we locate all victims,” Lenzi said. At least half of the building still needed to be searched, he said.
The massive explosion and fire sent debris flying at least a mile away from the production plant. Residents 20 miles away reported feeling the blast.
Joe Florip, a spokesperson for the Waukegan Police Department, said he would categorize this as a “massive explosion.”
“Many neighboring properties are going to have damage,” Florip said.
After the explosion, the Lake County Sheriff’s Office said on Twitter that it was aware of “a very loud explosion sound” and “ground shaking.”
Nine workers in building
Nine employees were inside before the blast, and all but three of them made it out. Allen Stevens, 29, of Kenosha, Wisconsin, was one of four injured workers who were taken to the hospital, but he later died in Loyola Hospital’s burn unit.
“The individuals that perished in this incident weren’t just trying to save – they actually saved the lives of their co-workers,” said George Bridges, Waukegan fire chief.
The cause of the explosion hasn’t been determined, although Lenzi said it originated in the building where the silicone is produced. (AB Specialty Silicones makes specialty silicone chemical raw materials for products such as adhesives, sealants and coatings.)
“Silicone itself is not a hazardous substance,” Lenzi said. “Something in that building went horrifically wrong, and that’s what our investigation is going to come up with.”
Lenzi said that from early information gleaned by investigators, some employees realized something was wrong and alerted others to get out of the building just before the explosion. He also said authorities have ruled out foul play.
Search is “precarious”
Howard Cooper, the Lake County coroner, said his office would perform autopsies Monday on the first two bodies that were found, and his office would release the names of the victims and preliminary causes of death. Dental records would be used to identify at least one of the deceased, he said.
Cooper also talked about the precariousness of the search for victims.
“We can’t go in there and do what we want to do quickly because the building is not structurally sound,” Cooper said. “We have to go in and be very careful, and we can’t risk anybody else getting hurt or killed doing this recovery effort.”
Elliot Olsen has decades of experience representing people harmed in explosions. You can contact him for a free consultation by filling out the following form and submitting it: