The large fire today in LaSalle at Carus Chemical has been contained and the shelter in place for LaSalle residents was lifted around 5 PM Wednesday Night. LaSalle Fire Department Chief, Chief Jerry Janick, described the scene as “a well involved fire” when fire personnel arrived at the Carus Chemical Plant Wednesday morning. Chief Janick said there was heavy fire upon Fire Department arrival and there is significant loss to the facility. The fire started around 9 AM in the Shipping Area of the plant during regular operations, according to a press release from Carus LLC. The cause of the fire still under investigation. According to Carus Vice President of Operations, Allen Gibbs, all Carus employees evacuated and are uninjured. “We are thankful everyone is safe, and we are also grateful to the LaSalle Fire Department and crews from the surrounding area who responded to address the situation to keep the area safe”, said Allen Gibbs. “Carus’ priority is to protect the health and safety of the employees, emergency personnel who are responding to the fire and the nearby community.” Chief Jerry Janick said crews initiated MABAS for additional help. The Shelter in place by the City of LaSalle for Wards 3 and 4 was for precautionary reasons because they didn’t want people out and about initially because of the heavy smoke. Chief Janick said “We are still bringing additional equipment in to assist in the final extinguishment and investigation”. Chief Janick said the plan moving forward is to finish extinguishing the fire, address any concerns with cleanup, environmental concerns and, hopefully, go into the recovery phase. Chief Janick said there were reports of explosions but he cannot confirm any explosions occurred at this time. LaSalle Police Chief, Chief Mike Smudzinski, said the LaSalle Police Department, assisted by the Peru Police Department and the Illinois State Police, locked down the area to allow the Fire Department to battle the fire.
Chief Janick confirmed one firefighter suffered minor injuries and was treated and released. A Carus Chemical representative said there was about 90 people in the plant when the fire broke out. All employees from the plant are accounted for and there were no injuries. Carus Chemical Vice President of Operation, Allen Gibbs, said the material released during the fire was Potassium Permanganate, which is used as a drinking water material. “It is in your drinking water as a normal product. If you come in contact with that material, it can cause staining on the skin. The material can be safely rinsed away with water”. Mr. Gibbs explained that it can look slightly pink or green when it comes in contact with water. “The stain does not pose a health threat and you can remove the stain with a one-to-one solution of household vinegar and household hydrogen peroxide.” Robert Kondreck from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said a few contractors are doing air monitoring and will continue their investigations. He said any potential runoff from the firefighting appears to be contained on-site at this time. He said it doesn’t appear to have run off into the Vermilion River, but the investigation will continue. For more information, visit https://response.epa.gov/.
The Illinois EPA and US Coast Guard assisted in the investigation. The City of LaSalle will hold another Press Conference at 2 PM on Thursday, January 12, 2023, at City Hall. Mayor Jeff Grove said he was thankful the fire led to no loss of life. Carus Chemical is operating a hotline for questions from the public at 815-224-6662.
State Representative Lance Yednock told RegionalMediaNews he has been in contact with the Mayor of LaSalle, as well as the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, and is standing by while our first responders do their work. “I pray all the employees and emergency responders are safe. I will stay in touch with the Mayor and respond as necessary. I encourage everyone to give the first responders space to secure the area.”
State Senator Sue Rezin told RegionalMediaNews “I am aware of today’s fire at the Carus chemical plant in LaSalle and have reached out to local officials to offer my support however I can. First off, I would like to thank God that no one was seriously injured in today’s incident and thank the first responders for their quick action. Please keep them and all of the residents of LaSalle in your thoughts as we move forward with the undoubtedly long cleanup process.”
Jessica Strauch – State Farm Insurance Agent posted on their Facebook page tips to clean your vehicle:
“My amazing customers and all of the LaSalle-Peru area affected by the Carus Chemical Fire earlier today.