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updated: 10/17/2010 10:35 PM

Explosion at Gurnee chemical firm sends man to hospital

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A 31-year-old man was taken to Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville after an explosion Sunday morning at a manufacturing plant in Gurnee.

Officials said firefighters were dispatched at 2:11 a.m. to Roquette America Inc., 1550 Northwestern Ave. Battalion Chief John Skillman, of the Gurnee Fire Department, said it appears there was an electrical explosion inside an electrical box located at an outside storage facility.

He added the box operates compressed gases, including hydrogen.

The explosion threw the victim back against a chain-link fence, causing trauma and possible injuries to the wrist, ribs and leg, Skillman said.

The victim, he said, was not an employee of the firm, but was likely a subcontractor.

A cause is under investigation, Skillman said, but the explosion could have stemmed from a small hydrogen leak.

Skillman said maintenance people were called in to ensure there was no further leak. He said electrical power was also shut down.

No other fire agencies were called to the scene and officials did not have information late Sunday afternoon about the victim's condition.

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