Rockton chemical plant fire: EPA monitoring air quality, 1 mile evacuation zone remains in place

People within one mile of the chemical plant fire in Rockton will have to stay away a little longer. 

Officials say they are testing the one mile zone and monitoring the water situation near where the chemical plant caught fire. 

Massive fire at Rockton chemical plant forces evacuations, expected to burn for days

They are hoping to get some results within 24 hours so people can know what chemicals are in the area.

Until then, they want people to stay out of that evacuation zone. 

The EPA is also monitoring the air quality 24 hours a day, and says, so far, all cyanide results have been below health screening values. 

The explosion happened around 7 a.m. Monday at Chemtool Incorporated located at 1165 Prairie Hill Road.

Residents within a one to two-mile radius of the fire were being told to evacuate as officials investigate.


Gov. J.B. Pritzker deployed the Illinois National Guard and activated the state’s emergency center to the fire.

"We can’t speculate how long it will take to put out the fire," Rockton Fire Department Chief Kirk Wilson said. "We ask that the public be patient with us."

Wilson said about 70 employees were at the plant when firefighters arrived and that all of them were evacuated safely. He also said one firefighter suffered a minor injury.

Pritzker activates National Guard to respond to chemical fire in Winnebago County

The plumes became so big they were being picked up on weather radar. Wilson said there was "no danger to air quality at ground level."

Officials recommended people within a three-mile radius wear masks as a precaution.