Chemical plant near Orion deemed “total loss” after massive fire

UPDATE:  A storage building at Helena Chemical caught on fire Wednesday, April 18 and crews are deeming it a total loss.

Orion Fire Chief Doug Smutzer said no employees were there at the time of the fire.  Fire crews were alerted of the flames after an alarm had tripped off inside the building. The initial fire call came in around 12:00 p.m..

Once crews got to the scene, they fought the fire with as little water as possible to prevent any runoff chemicals to nearby farms and land. They had also placed barriers around the area to prevent any runoff.

Smutzer said the fire started in the storage facility that carried pesticides and other farm chemicals. Smutzer was told the plant had just filled the facility just days ago.

Shortly after the fire was contained, environmental crews were called to help with cleanup. There is still no word on what caused the fire.

Original Story -- Plumes of black smoke and visible flame could be seen for miles around the Helena Chemical plant outside of Orion on Wednesday, April 18 as multiple area fire departments and hazardous materials teams responded to a fire that broke out around noon.

Firefighters on the scene said the public was in no danger. Police have shut down U.S. 150 between Route 81 and the town of Orion. The location of the fire and road closure is south of Orion.

Fire departments responding in addition to Orion's include: Coal Valley, Hampton, Silvis, Colona, Osco and Sherrard.

There were no reported injuries as the result of the fire.

WQAD viewer Colleen Kurrle captured these video images of the fire earlier this afternoon: