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UPDATED: Three, likely four dead in Illinois factory blast

Explosion at plant that makes specialty silicone chemical materials for adhesives, sealants and coatings.

May 6, 2019   by ASSOCIATED PRESS

WAUKEGAN, Ill. — Fire officials say an evacuation was underway moments before a deadly explosion at a northern Illinois manufacturing plant.

Waukegan Fire Marshal Steve Lenzi told the (Arlington Heights) Daily Herald May 6 managers at the AB Specialty Silicones plant sensed something was wrong and were working to evacuate employees before the blast Friday evening.

Three employees were killed and a fourth worker whose body hasn’t been recovered is also believed to be dead. Crews were working to find that person’s body in the debris.

Lenzi says crews are working “slowly, methodically and safely” because of the risks and the need to preserve evidence. The cause of the blast hasn’t been determined.

One of the dead workers has been publicly identified as 29-year-old Allen Stevens of Salem, Wisconsin.

The cause of the explosion hasn’t been determined, although Lenzi said it originated in the building where the silicone is produced.

“Most of the processes that they do are very non-hazardous. Silicone itself, not a hazardous substance,” Lenzi said. “Something … this weekend went horrifically wrong.”

AB Specialty Silicones makes specialty silicone chemical raw materials for products such as adhesives, sealants and coatings.

Lenzi said authorities have concluded that the explosion and fire were accidental.

“We are not looking at foul play.”


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