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  • First-responders are expect to be working most of the night at the Chicago plant blast site.

    First-responders are expect to be working most of the night at the Chicago plant blast site. | Photo: Lake County Sheriffs Office

Published 4 May 2019

One witness told WLS-TV that she "heard a large boom" and saw "debris and sparks flying everywhere," adding that a building "engulfed in flames" before a second "large boom" was heard.

A major explosion at a north Chicago chemical plant - in the Gurnee and Waukegan area - resulted in at least four being transported to the hospital for medical care late Friday.

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"We have fire and structural damage indicative of an explosion," Steve Lenzi, spokesman for the Waukegan Fire Department said at the scene, explaining that "there is very heavy damage.” Lenzi further stated that officials were consulting with the manager of the plant to determine the number of employees at the location at the time of the explosion. 

The AB Speciality Silicone plant blast took place at approximately 75 kilometers north of the U.S. city at about 9:00 p.m. local time.

"It was leveled," Megan Hener, a resident who leaves near the site of the blast, recounted to the Chicago Tribune newspaper about the earth-shaking explosion. "It shook our house and shook my insides."

Another witness told WLS-TV that she "heard a large boom" and saw "debris and sparks flying everywhere," adding that a building "engulfed in flames" before a second "large boom" was heard.

According to local media reports, there were no fatalities and emergency response personnel urged members of the public to avoid the area. 

Illinois state Rep. Joyce Mason, posted on Facebook, that employees of an unspecified business were inside the building at the time of the explosion, citing information from Waukegan Mayor Sam Cunningham.

Mason added that first-responders "expect to be working most of the night" due to the magnitude of the explosion and subsequent fire.

The cause of the blast remains unknown.

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