Lemont refinery explosion, fire leaves 1 dead, 1 injured; man killed identified

Asphalt tank exploded at Seneca Petroleum plant, Will County Sheriff's Office said.

ByEvelyn Holmes, Tre Ward, and ABC7 Chicago Digital Team WLS logo
Tuesday, April 25, 2023
Man killed in Lemont refinery explosion, fire ID'd; 1 other injured
The Will County Coroner's Office identified the man killed in the Lemont petroleum plant fire and explosion as 25-year-old Dru A. Worker of Homewood.

LEMONT, ill. (WLS) -- One person was killed and another injured in a fire and explosion at a petroleum plant in south suburban Lemont Tuesday morning, the Will County Sheriff's Office said.

Authorities said they started receiving calls for help around 10 a.m.

The sheriff's office said an explosion possibly took place in an asphalt tank at the Seneca Petroleum plant. One person was killed in the fire and another was transported to Silver Cross Hospital.

OSHA officials told the ABC7 I-Team that both the person who died and the person who was injured were contractors on-site with M&J Industrial Services.

M&J released a statement on the incident, writing, "We are deeply saddened to confirm that one of our team members died and one was injured today while working at a customer site in Lemont. We are heartbroken and devastated by this tragedy. Although the equipment involved was not owned or operated by our company, we are cooperating with federal and state authorities in their investigation. Our prayers are with the family and friends of both team members during this difficult time."

The Will County Coroner's Office identified the man killed as 25-year-old Dru A. Worker of Homewood.

The Tinley Park Bulldogs Wrestling Club posted to Facebook about Worker's death, saying he was a former member of the club and champion amateur wrestler, and was currently also serving as an assistant coach at Victor Andrew High School in Tinley Park.

"Dru was a State Champion for the Bulldogs and an All-State wrestler at Mt. Carmel. He was currently an assistant coach at Andrew High School, and was helping wrestlers in Freestyle and Greco as recently as practice last night. We will miss you Dru. Our hearts go out to the Worker family," they wrote.

"Man, it's going to be rough, but we got to be strong at stick together," said Edward Ortiz, Bulldogs coach.

Ortiz said his son, a student at Andrew High, was at practice with Worker just last night.

"It's going to be a loss in the community. Somebody who volunteers their time, you know, especially with the kids. It's going to be rough for the kids. I feel for them," he said.

Officials with Seneca Petroleum could not be reached for comment.

The sheriff's office said multiple agencies responded, and the fire was put out after several hours. Fire personnel said it is not believed that any kind of hazardous material was released, and there is no danger to the public.

ComEd also responded to the scene to evaluate any damage after the explosion downed some power lines.

The Lemont Fire Department advised people to avoid the area of 127th Street and New Avenue.

OSHA and ComEd were also called to the scene. Seneca Petroleum did not previously have any OSHA violations at the Lemont location.