Community Alert

Chemtool Fire - Current Info
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06/25/2021 @ 5:15 PM

Source:  Rockton Fire Protection District News Release


On Monday, June 14th, 2021, at 07:00 hours, the Rockton Fire Protection District was dispatched to 1165 Prairie Hill Road for a report of a fire inside the Chemtool / Lubrizol facility. Subsequently, Rockton Fire investigated the cause and origin of the fire and has determined the cause of fire as ACCIDENTIAL. 

Here are the events that took place on the morning of June 14th, 2021: 

On Monday, June 14, a project was underway at the Chem tool/ Lubrizol facility to replace insulation on an elevated heat transfer piping network that was part of the site's system for heating certain vessels used in the manufacturing of lubricating greases. This network of piping carried heated mineral oil. 

That morning, an employee of an outside contractor performing the insulation replacement project was working in the area of origin. They were utilizing a scissor lift to access the elevated heat transfer piping network. 

Shortly before 07:00 hours while the employee of the outside contractor was working in the area, a release occurred from the elevated piping. An unknown amount of mineral oil immediately began falling and pooling on the floor in the area of origin. 

Chemtool operators promptly detected the release and shut down the boiler. They were in the process of placing containment booms, as well as de-pressuring the heat transfer piping network, when the fire ignited. 

At the present time, the most credible scenario is that the scissor lift struck a valve or other piece of piping with sufficient mechanical force to cause the release of mineral oil. The Investigation has not yet determined the source of ignition. 

06/25/2021 @ 6:00 AM

As of 2 pm on Wednesday, June 23, the fire suppression efforts are complete. The fire suppression team remains on site through Sunday to monitor for flare ups; on Sunday, the team will reassess whether additional fire monitoring is needed.

06/23/2021 @ 10:00 AM

For clarification, this area of the river has been closed since last week. IDNR says emergency personnel and workers are near the site and the closure is intended to help keep both those emergency personnel, workers and the public safe as fire response continues and clean-up work begins. IDNR adds that the closure has nothing to due with potential contamination.

Due to the Chemtool fire, and the ongoing efforts of emergency personnel, IDNR Conservation Police have determined that navigation of the Rock River is significantly dangerous to the public at this time. Until further notice, the Rock River is now closed to recreational boat traffic from the Rockton Dam, in Winnebago County, upstream to the border of Wisconsin.
At present, there are emergency personnel and workers near the site; the closure is intended to help keep both those emergency personnel, workers and the public safe as fire response continues and clean-up work begins.  (Source: 
Illinois Conservation Police)

06/22/2021 @ 9:30 AM

This morning, teams will begin damage assessments in the one-mile radius around Chemtool. Local agencies involved include Laborer’s Disaster Response Teams, Team Rubicon, Christopher Burke Engineering, and multiple local personnel from Rockton, Rockford, and other communities. Local damage assessment teams will be joined by IEMA and supported by MABAS.

NOTE:  Damage assessments are underway in Rockton today (6/22) following last week’s chemical fire. Teams are going door to door within the previously identified one-mile evacuation zone to speak with homeowners.  If you have damage, please alert local authorities by emailing  Please put “Damage” in the subject line and make sure to include your name, phone number, email address, and address of your home or business. A member of the assessment team will reach out to you.  Source:  IEMA FB)

06/21/2021 @ 6:00 PM

Chemtool Fire Update

1. With the large majority of the fire under control, the response has shifted to address recovery and clean-up from the event. 

2. Once the Chemtool, Inc. site is released by all firefighting agencies and state and federal investigators, Illinois EPA and U.S. EPA will lead regulatory oversight of the site remediation efforts. 

3. The remaining fire suppression operation is now led by US Fire Pump and Lubrizol. 

4. Clean-up operations continue to include monitoring of air and water quality.

5. U.S. EPA continues to conduct stationary and roaming air monitoring in the area. Air quality remains stable. Data from the EPA’s Air Monitoring can be found at provided EPA link.

6. The Illinois EPA continues water quality analysis of the Rock River and area groundwater. Additional sampling is being determined.   Water samples have been collected from the Rock River, sentinel wells, waste water treatment plants, sanitation lines on site, and water runoff from fire suppression. Sampling location maps are currently available on Illinois EPA’s Chemtool webpage.  Final sampling data will also be published on this page.

7. Illinois EPA also collected soil and wipe samples throughout the one-mile radius area.  Preliminary results of initial samples indicate no detection of semivolatile organic compounds.  Final sampling data will be published on Illinois EPA’s Chemtool webpage. Health interpretations of results collected on private property will be provided by the Illinois Department of Public Health directly to property owners.

8. Currently, all wastewater from the site is being collected and characterized for disposal, before being shipped to an appropriate facility. 

9. Damage assessment teams will begin damage assessments in the one-mile radius around Chemtool on Tuesday morning. Local agencies involved include Laborer’s Disaster Response Teams, Team Rubicon, Christopher Burke Engineering, and multiple local personnel from Rockford, Rockton, and other communities. Local damage assessment teams will be joined by IEMA and supported by MABAS .

10. Residents with debris from the fire are encouraged to contact Clean Harbors at 877-552-8942 for assistance with removal.

Walt Williamson Pool Update

The Village would like to provide additional assurance to patrons by draining and refilling it. This will take a few days, and we will provide an update on a reopening date as soon as we have it. Thank you for your patience.  For further clarification, the Walt Williamson pool was mitigated per US EPA and Illinois EPA recommendations. Mayor Peterson made the decision to drain and refill the pool Monday morning out of care for residents who expressed concern about pool water quality while the area experiences a very hot, dry summer. This additional measure is being taken so the public pool remains available to as many residents who desire to use it.

06/19/2021 @ 1:00 PM

Air & Water Quality - At this time, air quality measures remain stable. There was a slight increase in particulate matter but this was not significant. Officials will continue to monitor air and water quality monitoring in and around the area. The air quality is continuously being assessed from over 30 monitoring devices at ground level throughout Winnebago County. These monitors are moved at regular intervals to obtain comprehensive sampling. The 3-mile mask recommendation has been lifted at this time.  However, if you have respiratory conditions, you should take precautions and mask when you are outside if you are within three miles of Chemtool.  The Illinois EPA will be conducting water quality testing of the Rock River and area groundwater following the Chemtool fire in Rockton. Water samples are being collected from the Rock River, sentinel wells, waste water treatment plants, sanitation lines on site, and water runoff from fire suppression.  Sampling will also be done in storm sewers on a pre-determined schedule to assess for contaminants. Soil sampling will be one component of the sample of the debris/ash from the fire in the evacuation zone that will be collected from a representative sample. Sampling which will be expanded beyond the evacuation zone to determine the concentration in these areas.

Click here for the US EPA website for data updates on monitoring.

Click here for a map of data updates. (1)

Click here for a map of data updates. (2)

Click here for a map of data updates. (3)


06/18/2021 @ 11:00 AM

The evacuation orders for residents within one mile of Chemtool have been lifted as of 10:45am on Friday, June 18, 2021. Residents should take precautions upon returning home as their environment has been impacted by the fire.


06/17/2021 @ 6:00 PM

1. Fire Chief Wilson reports that fire suppression continues and progresses positively. He cautioned residents that smoke will linger for the next few days. Thermal imaging is being used to identify the hot spots. He added that the investigation is still preliminary, no causes have yet been identified, and fire personnel remain focused on fire suppression. 

2. Dr. Martell reports that air quality levels remain stable. Debris sample testing has been expedited. Of the debris results that have been returned, she is cautiously optimistic about the debris composition. The one-mile evacuation zone remains in effect until debris results are confirmed. She stated the Rock River is closed from just north of the Chemtool site through approximately one mile south.

3. Fire suppression foam: there was a breach of foam into the Rock River, believed to come from foam not used in suppression efforts. The mitigation response quickly trapped the foam by using river booms, and it was vacuumed into HAZMAT fracking containers on site. The foam is being tested to verify which foam was breached. The specialized fire suppression team initially began using fluorinated foam but was ordered by Chief Wilson after a strong recommendation by IEPA to switch to non-fluorinated foam. 

4. Craig Thomas, U.S. EPA’s on-site coordinator, reports that air quality remains stable. There have been periodic spikes when there are fire flare ups, and he encourages the public to continue to visit the U.S. EPA’s response website with test results. 

5. Police personnel will monitor the one-mile evacuation zone for safety. No Old Settlers Day festival parking is allowed within the evacuation zone. 

6. Chief Wilson addressed the one mile evacuation zone map confusion, adding he ordered the revised map to be released because of the confusion concerning the center point of the one-mile radius zone. He clarified that the fire is the central point, not the entire parcel. 

Although not discussed at the press conference, the Red Cross has placed the remaining three evacuees, and the evacuation center is closed. The Red Cross will assist anyone needing shelter through the end of evacuation order. The Red Cross remains on standby to assist evacuees through the Red Cross hotline.

06/17/2021 @ 10:00 AM

The one mile evacuation zone remains in effect. A more detailed press conference summary will be shared later this evening.

06/16/2021 @ 8:00 PM

Evacuation Zone Map Clarification: The first map attached, and the one that was posted to the Village’s Facebook page on Monday, was done quickly and uses the entire parcel as the point to create the one mile radius evacuation zone. This map includes commercial downtown Rockton and Settlers Park. The second map depicts the one mile radius evacuation zone using the center point of the parcel. Here is the explanation from WinGIS: “The original buffer was made 1 mile around the entire the parcel that ChemTool lies on. Because the need was immediate, and erring on the side of caution, the entire parcel was used because simply buffering a point doesn’t provide a true picture of what it means to be within “1 mile” of ChemTool. If the parcel is particularly large (as this is) some of that distance is lost just getting out off of the property, let alone 1 mile away from it. Now that there is a more specific location of the fire itself, we can redraw the buffer accordingly if you would like. That still, however, would be 1 mile away from a point, not the ChemTool property as whole.”

Our latest instruction from emergency personnel is to use the second map with the incident as the map point, not the parcel.


• Rockton Fire Chief Kirk Wilson stated that fire suppression efforts are ongoing, and the fire remains contained. 
• Air quality remains stable, and officials are removing the 3-mile mask zone recommendation. Those who have underlying respiratory conditions are advised to continue masking when outdoors. Officials will continue to monitor air quality.
• The one-mile evacuation zone continues for residents and businesses while the EPA continues rapid testing debris. 
• Officials continue to test water quality, and again encourage residents to not water lawns, etc. until further notice. 
• Please continue to check official website for updates. (LINKS TO LEFT)

We understand many of you are worried, you are exhausted, and we’re right there with you. Life and environmental safety remain officials’ top priorities.

06/16/2021 @ 8:00 AM

Residents can call 877-552-8942 to arrange to have the fire-related debris removed for them, rather that removing it themselves. This contactor, Clean Harbors, has been arranged by the Lubrizol Foundation, the parent company of Chemtool, to assist the residents who may have been impacted by the Chemtool fire in removing fire-related debris from residential homes and businesses in the area.

06/16/2021 @ 6:15 AM

While many barricades in the evacuation area are currently being removed by law enforcement, the evacuation still stands until further evaluation this morning.

06/15/2021 @ 2:45 PM

Work continues on the fire at Chemtool in Rockton. Emergency crews, including a specialized industrial crew from Louisiana, are on-scene. This afternoon, there has been a significant reduction in smoke and fire from new fire suppression efforts.

Air and water quality monitoring continues in and around the area. To date, test results do not show any health risk other than the short-term irritation one would normally experience in the presence of smoke. However, until further testing is completed, the one-mile evacuation order remains in effect. 

As residents outside of the evacuation area begin clean up, please do not touch ash or debris. Wear gloves and place in a separate container until further instructions are released. In addition, residents within a three-mile radius of the scene should wear face coverings or masks while outside as a precaution.

Lubrizol, the parent company of Chemtool, is working closely with government agencies to provide information, including releasing all product data information, and supporting the nearly 200 employees of the facility.

06/15/2021 @ 11:10 AM

All media inquiries should be directed to:

WCSO Public Information Officer Katie Zimmerman at (815) 505-8863 or

06/15/2021 @ 9:00 AM

See links above for most recent news conference.

06/15/2021 @ 4:15 AM


Road Closure Reminder - Non-emergency traffic is restricted in the following areas:

Kocher Street Between Salem Street and Blackhawk Blvd.

Blackhawk Blvd. between Route 2 and North Bridge Street

Dingham Drive

Central Drive

Kile Drive

Wright Drive

Watts Avenue

N. Blackhawk Blvd. between Central Drive and Prairie Hill Road

Prairie Hill Road between South Bluff Road and Route 2

If you work in this area, please check with your employer before attempting to return to work this morning.

Anyone affected and in need of assistance can call the Red Cross 24/7 disaster hotline at (877)-597-0747.

WCHD Officials are directing the public not to handle waste from the fire with bare hands.  Please use gloves or a shovel to gather and bag separately from other household waste.  Further direction will be provided.  Anyone in the 3 mile perimeter of the fire is asked to wear a mask as precautionary measure when outside.

06/14/21 @ 8 PM

All residents and businesses within a one mile radius of Chemtool, 1165 Prairie Hill Road in Rockton, should still be evacuated.  If needed, residents can evacuate to Roscoe Middle School, 6121 Elevator Road.  


More updates will be provided when available.

06/14/21  @ 5PM

Updates from the 5 pm press conference:

1. The evacuation order for those within one mile remains in effect. We do not know when it will be lifted, but as soon as we do know, we will communicate this ASAP. 
2. If you live within the one mile evacuation zone, please head to Roscoe Middle School at 6121 Elevator Rd., Roscoe. The Salvation Army and American Red Cross are managing needed resources for evacuees. 
3. The Winnebago County Health Department is recommending those within a 3 mile radius wear protective masks when outside. 
4. Governor Pritzker has deployed the National Guard's specialized team that is trained to deal with situations like these. 
5. We do not know how long it will take to complete fire suppression efforts. 
6. We will continue to update you on any developments as we learn them.

Monitor local media for updates.