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About 125 personnel from at least 20 fire, law enforcement and federal agencies take part in the recovery effort
Officials say six people have died at a Chicago warehouse after an explosion and a fire, and that crews were still searching the wreckage.
The explosion on Friday afternoon rattled buildings and workplaces as far away as about a mile, and set several vehicles ablaze.
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Erik Slaughter, director of the office of chemicals and radiation control, told the Chicago Tribune that six people had died. The office is assisting with the investigation.
About 125 personnel from at least 20 fire, law enforcement and federal agencies have taken part in the recovery effort, the Cook County sheriff’s office said. More than 1,000 people were evacuated.
The blast occurred at the Amazon Fulfillment Center in the city’s northern suburbs, near Mundelein. It sent at least four large clouds of thick black smoke towering over the industrial area.
Emergency crews from four suburbs surrounded the facility, one of the largest in Amazon’s extensive network of fulfillment centers, according to Kevin Quinn, a spokesman for the city of Mundelein.
Amazon said it was cooperating with authorities and providing additional support as needed. A 7pm news conference was scheduled.
“I don’t know any more details than you do, other than the fact that we have lost people,” the Cook County sheriff, Tom Dart, told reporters. “We want to be respectful of their families during the incident and so we are looking forward to more information coming to us as time goes on.”
Officials said it wasn’t immediately clear what sparked the blast or how many people were inside the plant at the time. But police said they evacuated as soon as possible.
Firefighters were ordered to leave several nearby buildings, including the nearby Metra train station, and authorities warned the public to stay away from the area.
Sheriff’s spokeswoman Monica Hudon said officials were monitoring the air. “We don’t want the community to think they have to go into the air,” she said.
Some people said they could hear the blast but there were no immediate reports of injuries to people in the immediate area.
Chris Galvin, 33, told the Chicago Tribune he was walking to his car when he heard a boom and the sky turned orange. He didn’t see anything, but then saw a fire and smoke coming from a large Amazon warehouse and was told to get back.
He said he doesn’t work for Amazon, but comes to the warehouse for deliveries.
“It was kind of scary but it’s always like that, it’s hard to predict,” he said.
Matt Watkins, a university student at Chicago State University, said he was working on a desk at a nearby business when the explosion shook the building.
“I thought it was an earthquake,” he said. “And it felt like the whole building was just swaying.”