EPA monitoring for toxic fumes after Shorewood farm store fire; some hot spots still smoldering

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ByEric Horng via WLS logo
Wednesday, July 20, 2022
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As firefighters continued to put out smoldering hot spots after a farm store fire in Shorewood, the EPA is monitoring the air for toxic fumes.

SHOREWOOD, Ill. (WLS) -- A full environmental assessment and air monitoring for toxic fumes is underway at the site of a still-smoldering farm store fire in Shorewood.

The fire broke out at around 4:30 a.m. Tuesday at the Tri-County Stockdale Company on Black Road. The farm supply store sells animal feed, as well as yard care and fertilizer.

WATCH | Chopper7 over Shorewood fire

Video from Chopper 7HD Wednesday morning showed ruins still smoldering more than 24 hours after the fire was reported.

The massive blaze destroyed four of the six buildings at the store.

"Burning fertilizer and pesticides is toxic and even if you don't have respiratory issues to begin with, it's still going to irritate your respiratory system," Troy Fire Protection District Chief Andy Doyle. "You can have coughing, wheezing, burning eyes and we don't want anybody to have to go through that. Plus the effects down the line for anybody who has asthma or anything like that is going to affect even worse, especially with how humid it is out here too. And that's what affected the smoke, was the humidity was keeping it close to the ground."

Shorewood police issued a shelter-in-place order for about an hour due to the fumes.

No injuries were reported, and the building was closed at the time of the fire. The EPA is now monitoring the air quality around the site using special equipment. They will continue the monitoring at least through Thursday.

"Essentially we did not detect anything that would be of any concern to public health from the chemical nature," said Jim Mitchell, U.S. EPA Chicago Office.

"The property owners have hired an environmental cleanup service who is working with the property owners to clean up any environmental problems that may exist, to clean up any of the runoff water that may or may not be contaminated, and that will be supervised under the supervision of the Illinois EPA," said Doyle.

Fire officials said none of the buildings had a sprinkler system or fire alarm system, and it could take weeks before a cause of the fire is determined.

Officials said the vast majority of residents in the area do not use well water, so there's little concern for now about possibly contaminated runoff impacting drinking water.

Officials also said there is a moderate amount of particulate matter in the air, much of it from hay and straw that continues to smolder, which could be an issue for people with respiratory problems. If you have respiratory problems or conditions like asthma, officials are urging you to stay indoors.

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