HERBERT, Ill. --- A fire at a chrome treating plant in far northwest Illinois led to evacuations and damage Monday morning.
A fire was reported at the US Chrome Corporation of Illinois in Boone County at 305 Herbert Road near Kingston, Ill. around 11:30 a.m.
Robin Slack and her dog Maddy watched as 15 departments responded to the fire in their rural neighborhood.
“Three large, big booms, first I checked upstairs and made sure nothing fell on my house, then I looked out the window and saw a bunch of yellow smoke coming out the top,” she said.
The general manager of US Chrome said workers were in the process of upgrading the facility – replacing chemical tanks – and when one old tank was being removed, the fire was somehow sparked.
“Some of the material that was adhered to the tank, we believe caught fire,” David Crowley, the general manager, said.
All eight employees got out safely.
A few homes downwind of the smoke were briefly evacuated. It took firefighters about an hour to get it under control. The serious concern for authorities was how to deal with combustible chemicals.
“This facility is a chrome treating plant. Our biggest concern would be with the chemicals that are involved,” Al Hyder, fire chief of Belvidere, said.
The company plates farming equipment, railroad parts and other industrial machinery with chrome.
“We don’t make anything, we just make everything better by applying a hard layer of corrosion and wear protection to parts manufactured by other manufacturers,” Crowley said.
The fire was contained to the south end of the plant, and the company’s general manager said operations will resume in other areas of the plant soon.
Neighbors said it is a relief that the situation was contained and controlled before anyone was hurt.
“I’m pretty confident. I think we’ve got 15 different fire departments out here, which for a town of 70 people, 17 houses, that’s pretty good. we don’t get much action out here, but when we do, we do it good,” Todd Humphry, a neighbor said.
Authorities said there is no threat to public safety, however state and federal environmental officials are monitoring the situation.
No one was injured.