Nearly 100 tons of lithium ion batteries burned in a Morris industrial fire, prompting authorities to evacuate parts of the city because of “very deadly” fumes.
Morris Industrial Fire “Highly Poisonous”
The Morris industrial fire took place on June 29, 2021 in the 900 block of East Benton Street in Morris, IL. Fire officials then arrived at the scene at around noon to fight it. However, their efforts soon shifted when they learned that there were between 80 and 100 tons of lithium ion batteries inside the building.
“These batteries range in size from your cell phone to a little bigger than a car battery and as these batteries get wet, they short out and they ignite and explode,” said Tracey Steffes, fire chief of the Morris Fire Protection & Ambulance District. “And that’s the problem we’re having. So we started our initial attack with water, and then we learned very quickly that that was not going to be a good avenue for extinguishment for this fire.”
Firefighters were forced to back away from the building and stop using water to fight the Morris industrial fire.
Emergency Evacuations Ordered
Because of the dangerous fumes from the Morris industrial fire, emergency evacuations were ordered in parts of the city.
Specifically, the Grundy County, IL Emergency Management Agency told anyone who lives in the 900 blocks of Benton, Douglas, or Armstrong Streets or on East Street to “please evacuate your residence now. There is an industrial fire to the south.”
Those who needed a place to go were ordered to head to the Grundy County Administration building located at 1320 Union Street.
Illinois Workers’ Occupational Disease Act
People who are exposed to chemicals, fumes, radiation, dust, or mold can suffer permanent damage to their health. Fortunately, Illinois employees could be eligible compensation if they develop a disease from continuous employment thanks to the Illinois Workers’ Occupational Diseases Act.
Under the terms of the Act, employees who suffer disablement, disfigurement, impairment, or death because of a disease that arises from their employment could potentially receive workers’ compensation benefits. Specifically, the Act states that “A disease shall be deemed to arise out of employment if there is apparent to the rational mind, upon consideration of all the circumstances, a causal connection between the conditions under which the work is performed and the occupational disease.”
If a person has sustained an occupational disease, both that person and his or her dependents may be eligible for benefits laid out in the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act. These benefits could include the following:
- Payment for Reasonable, Related Medical Treatment
- Temporary Total Disability (TTD)
- Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) Benefits for Permanent Injuries, If Applicable
- Vocational Training, If Applicable
- Wage Differential Benefits, If Applicable
- Burial Costs, If Applicable
To qualify for benefits, however, the employee’s disablement must occur within two years from the last day he or she was exposed to the sickening elements, with some exceptions. For example, if an employee suffers from the effects of inhaling asbestos or silica dust or from berylliosis, that employee can file a claim up to three years after the last day he or she was exposed. If the disease is caused by radiation, the time limit is extended to 25 years after the last day of exposure.
Attorneys Helping with Employment-Related Diseases
Proving that a disease is employment-related is sometimes difficult. Often, employers and their insurance carriers will dispute that the disease was caused by a claimant’s employment. To help overcome these objections, consider doing what so many other employees have done before you and reach out to the dedicated workers’ compensation attorneys at GWC Injury Lawyers LLC.
With over $2 billion recovered in verdicts and settlements, GWC is one of the premier Workers’ Compensation and Personal Injury law firms in Illinois. For over four decades, our Chicago workers’ compensation lawyers have been fighting for employees in nearly every profession with virtually every type of compensable illness or injury. We have the experience, the determination, the resources, and the reputation you need to get you and your family the justice you deserve.