Residents in the tiny town of Seward, IL, are back home after all 300 people ended up evacuated following an explosion at the Nova Kem plant in town.
The chemical plant on Sixth Street in the village caught fire Sunday calling in more than 20 area fire departments to help respond to the potentially dangerous situation.
Emergency officials lifted the mandatory evacuation at 3 p.m. Monday. Fire crews still don’t know the actual cause of the fire. The threat of another potential explosion was part of the reason residents originally ended up evacuated, but it was the threat of dangerous chemicals in the air that kept residents out overnight.
“We’ve done numerous air samplings in the building and outside the building and everything is within specifications as far as air quality is concerned,” said Chief Steve VanVleck, Pecatonica Fire Department.
VanVleck says the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) remains on the scene to continue to monitor air quality if anything were to change, but he said MABAS crews are certain there is no further threat to any one in town.
On Monday, bits of ash left over from the fire lined the outside of the Nova Kem plant in Seward. That’s where emergency officials said the danger really was.
“We will still be sitting on scene, not letting anybody up to the scene, but as far as residents it shouldn’t affect them,” said Chief VanVleck.
Four people were inside the chemical plant when the explosion took place. One ended up going to the hospital for a reported back injury, but has since released from the hospital.