2 dead, 2 unaccounted for in massive IL plant explosion felt miles away

AB Specialty Silicones plant explosion in Waukegan, Illinois

WAUKEGAN, Ill. -- A fiery plant explosion rocked Waukegan, Illinois Friday night, May 3. Two people were killed and at least two others are still unaccounted for. The blast was so powerful people heard it across the state line.

"Total devastation to basically see nothing left but the shell of a building," said Jason Martinez, lives nearby.

The fiery blast happened at AB Specialty Silicones -- located about 40 miles north of Chicago -- Friday night around 9:30 p.m. First responders arrived in full force.

"Our first approach after we got here was calling in extra units," said Waukegan Deputy Fire Marshall Todd Zupec.

AB Specialty Silicones plant explosion in Waukegan, Illinois

Video from a passerby shows what looks like an apocalyptic scene.

"Just chaos around. There was so many firetrucks and everything was cordoned off," said David Rettig, lives in Kenosha.

David Rettig felt the explosion while inside his Kenosha home.

AB Specialty Silicones plant explosion in Waukegan, Illinois

AB Specialty Silicones plant explosion in Waukegan, Illinois

"Heard a loud bang," said Rettig. "Windows shook. It almost felt like thunder but there was no lightning and wasn't raining."

Rettig's family run a business next door to the plant. Boards now cover where windows were shattered.

"Even blew in all the garage doors we have on the building," Rettig said.

Four people were transported to the hospital with injuries. One died at the hospital. FOX6 News has confirmed that victim is 28-year-old Allen Stevens of Salem, Wisconsin.

Crews spent all day Saturday removing rubble and working to recover the missing, who are presumed dead.

"We just got some heavier equipment to start helping us move some of the debris out of the way," Zupec said.

The lack of light made things too challenging to continue the search Saturday evening. Officials will resume Sunday, May 5, with the goal of finding two people still inside the shredded building.

AB Specialty Silicones plant explosion in Waukegan, Illinois

AB Specialty Silicones plant explosion in Waukegan, Illinois

AB Specialty Silicones released the following statement:

"We are shocked and heartbroken by the tragedy that occurred in our plant last night. We have spent the day trying our best to support all of the members of our AB family as we attempt to process this terrible loss together.

We want to express our extreme gratitude to all of the first responders who arrived at the scene. We continue to work closely with the Waukegan Fire Department and the Illinois Fire Marshal as they secure the scene and complete their investigation."

Authorities are working to figure out what caused the blast. Fire officials say damage is estimated at more than $1 million.

AB Specialty Silicones plant explosion in Waukegan, Illinois

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