And another interesting supply disruption. 100 tons of Lithium batteries is on fire. Near the location of the grease plant fire above. No such thing as a coincidence.
Fire officials said spray foam and water will not work to extinguish the volatile batteries and have decided to let it burn out on its own.
MORRIS, IL — Gov. J.B. Pritzker dispatched the National Guard's civil support team to Morris after a fire at the old paper mill facility required about 5,000 people to evacuate. Police are asking anyone in the 800 and 900 block of Benton, Douglas, Spruce, Price or Armstrong Streets to leave the area immediately due to the fire at the 919 East Benton Street site.
Initial reports said there could be up to 100 tons of lithium batteries in the building, but public information official Lt. Nick Doerfler told Patch there was an unknown amount of lithium and possibly other potentially hazardous materials in the building.
"Lots, I don't have an exact number right now," he said in a phone interview.
Fire Chief Tracey Steffes said in a Tuesday evening press conference there are around 180,000 to 200,000 pounds of lithium batteries in the building, which is currently being used as a warehouse by a company that manufactures batteries. Steffes said he would "liked to have known" the company was storing hazardous materials, but is not sure if they can be punished for not informing officials.
Since lithium reacts with water to form hydrogen gas, emergency responders tried to tackle the smoke using anti-fire foam spray. Around 1:20 p.m., Morris fire officials said they put out a call over Northern Illinois scanners for "as many foam units as possible." After input from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Morris Fire Protection District decided to let the fire burn out on its own to the volatile nature of lithium batteries when they get wet.
While Steffes said the scale of this fire is not comparable to the recent Rockton chemical fire, there are some resources in the area leftover from the Rockton incident that have made it easier to get a hold of environmental groups and air quality monitoring tools.
"We're going to be here for the long haul," Steffes said. "This isn't gonna go away tonight and we're gonna be out here tomorrow for sure."
The fire chief said an employee from the company, which he said is called Superior Battery, was on the scene earlier Tuesday and gave him information on what was inside the building since fire crews have not been able to get inside yet. According to Steffes, lithium batteries ranging in size from cell phones to small cars along with some old electronics are inside. The electronics appear to be what is causing the black smoke, he said.
"It could've been a lot worse than it is," he said, before explaining the department's next approach would be to dump dry materials such as rock salt on top of the batteries.
The fire began about around noon, according to reports from WCSJ. Those in need of a place to go can gather at the Grundy County administration building at 1320 Union Street.
Police Chief Alicia Steffes estimated about 1,000 homes were evacuated. Fire personnel are trying to get an exact headcount. Hazmat teams are already on the scene and no injuries have been reported.