Police: One killed in fire at Bensenville manufacturer

One person was killed in what authorities described as an explosion and fire they say destroyed one lab at a Bensenville manufacturer and damaged another, creating a "hazmat situation."

Bensenville police say the explosion and fire occurred about 5 p.m. Wednesday at PureLine Treatment Systems on the 1200 block of North Ellis Street, just west of O'Hare International Airport. According to the company's website, PureLine manufactures chlorine dioxide generators used in water treatment.

"At no time was the general public in danger," police said.

Police said they had no information about the deceased employee.

Another employee was taken to the hospital for treatment of injuries that were not life-threatening, police said. Two Bensenville firefighters were taken to Alexian Brothers Medical Center in Elk Grove Village for treatment of respiratory irritation, said Bensenville Fire Protection District Chief Scott Walker. Both firefighters were released after a few hours and cleared to return to work, he said.

Among the biggest problems firefighters encountered was a large container of hydrochloric acid that leaked as a result of fire damage, Walker said. That chemical combined with water from the sprinkler system to create a chemical cloud that confronted firefighters as they entered the building.

Arriving on the scene, firefighters talked to a man who had pulled himself from the building, Walker said.

"He reported a co-worker was still trapped inside," Walker said, adding it took firefighters about 90 minutes to locate the victim.

The damage was extensive, Walker said. Battling the fire "took longer than normal because of the chemical leak and the active fire burning beneath the part (of the lab) that had collapsed," he said.

"One lab is completely gone," he said. The second has structural damage that required shoring up the roof and cutting the power so firefighters could enter, he said.

Evacuating nearby businesses was unnecessary, Walker said, because the chemical cloud vented through a skylight and dissipated into the air.

The investigation into the origins of the explosion and fire continues, he said.

Police and fire crews from Wood Dale, Oakbrook Terrace, Des Plaines, Franklin Park, Schiller Park, Itasca, Addison, York Center, Lombard and Hanover Park along with the DuPage County Fire Investigation Task Force and the Mutual Aid Box Alarm System (MABAS) Division 10, also responded to the fire.

Illinois EPA spokeswoman Kim Biggs said the agency has not received a report about the fire, but representatives have contacted the company to determine if any hazardous waste was generated as a result of the fire.

Representatives from PureLine did not respond to a request for comment.

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