Residents of Morris in Illinois evacuated Tuesday after an industrial fire that involved lithium-ion batteries occurred in the city.

Emergency crews are still working Wednesday in the clearing operations after an industrial fire involving lithium-ion batteries in Morris. The evacuation has been deemed mandatory in portions of the city of Morris for 24 hours.

The Morris Fire Department received a call at 11:42 a.m. Tuesday regarding a fire at the 900 block of East Benton Street. Firefighters responded to a fire inside an old Federal Paper Board building, a facility that was being used as storage of a large number of lithium batteries, NBC Chicago reported.

The company is now at the building called Superior Battery. Located inside the building were around 80 to 100 tons of lithium batteries on the premises.

According to CBS Chicago, local authorities stated that the evacuation was prompted by lithium batteries catching fire. The burned batteries produced smoke with dangerous particulates due to chemical reactions.

Due to the health risk, officials have evacuated residents on the southeast side of Morris, an area that started from Washington Street as far east as Evergreen Cemetery or the Cemetery Road to the east to Route 47 to the west, and from the railroad tracks on the north to the river on the south.

Morris officials advised residents that if they needed a place to stay, the Grundy County Administration Building located at 1320 Union St. is a reception area. The city of Morris is the county seat of Grundy County.

The evacuation is mandatory for 24 hours and is expected to end at 9 p.m. Wednesday, but it could be extended depending on the conditions and assessment of the emergency crew during their clearing operation.

Residents were also advised to report if they can see and smell smoke. They were advised to immediately self-evacuate and call (815) 941-3408 once they detected smoke.

Furthermore, because the Morris industrial fire involved a lithium fire, emergency crew cannot add water to the flames during their clearing operation. Lithium explodes when it comes into contact with water, which means they need to smother the flames.

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Strictly Containing the Industrial Fire

The fire department stated their only option is to let the fire burn. Firefighters will be on the scene throughout the night to be ready from any incident that may occur and to maintain public safety.

Chief Tracey Steffes of the Morris Fire Department shared that the building is doing very good. Steffes added that the building kept the explosions inside. The walls of the building were preventing the explosions from coming outside the building, keeping explosions contained.

Around 130 total fire personnel were on the scene which came from around 30 fire units.

Gov. JB Pritzker's spokesperson stated that the Illinois National Guard had been called to assist in the situation. American Red Cross volunteers also headed to Morris to support the first responders while they were fighting the industrial fire. Volunteers would be providing food and water to more than 300 emergency personnel overall.

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