Officials in Morris lifting evacuation order at 4 p.m. Friday

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MORRIS, Ill. — An evacuation order for thousands of residents in Morris will be lifted at 4 pm. Friday as firefighters continue to battle a fire at a battery storage facility.

The fire that started around midday Tuesday prompted city officials to order the evacuation of 3,000-4,000 people in some 950 nearby homes, a school, church and small businesses.

Crews used 28 tons of cement to smother the burning lithium batteries, since water and foam were not an option. Officials said the method appears to be working.

The fire has been burning since Tuesday. bThe smoke and fumes coming from the building are considered toxic.

In a press conference Friday at noon, officials announced that they are lifting the evacuation order at 4 p.m. ahead of the holiday weekend.

Residents who live in the 900 block of North Street, the 900 block of Benton Street and the 700 block of East Street will have their neighborhoods blocked off as the investigation continues — however residents can still go home, they just won’t be able to park.

The Joliet Fire Department is taking care of fire operations until 6 p.m. Friday as the blaze continues to burn.

The Morris fire came two weeks after explosions and a massive blaze at a chemical plant near Rockton, an Illinois town along the Wisconsin border, forced the evacuation of hundreds of homes for several days. Nobody at the plant or the surrounding community was injured by the June 13 fire that officials later determined was started accidentally during maintenance work.

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