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Morris residents evacuated after fire breaks out in building housing batteries, firefighters letting blaze burn for now

“You can’t spray water on it, it’s an explosive hazard,” an official said. “We are waiting for additional resources to figure out how to fight it.”

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An industrial fire at a Morris warehouse where large batteries are stored has prompted officials to order the evacuation of nearby residences.

Nick Doefler, a spokesman for the agencies responding to the fire, said there were no reported injuries from the fire at a subdivided warehouse that used to be a paper mill. The blaze started at around noon Tuesday.

He said firefighters were awaiting instructions on how to combat the blaze because of the batteries inside. “You can’t spray water on it, it’s an explosive hazard,” Doefler said. “We are waiting for additional resources to figure out how to fight it.”

In the meantime, the Grundy County Emergency Management Agency issued an order for those living in the immediate vicinity — on the 900 blocks of Benton, Douglas and Armstrong streets as well as those who live on East Street — to “please evacuate your residence now.” Morris is about 68 miles southwest of Chicago.

Doefler said the order was made out of concern about the effects of breathing the smoke from the fire. He did not know how many people are affected by the evacuation order.

He said the cause of the fire has not been determined.

The evacuation comes two weeks after an explosion and massive fire at a chemical plant near Rockton along the Wisconsin border forced the evacuation of hundreds of homes for several days as the fire burned.

Nobody at the plant or the surrounding community was injured by the June 13 fire that officials later determined was started accidentally during maintenance work.

Associated Press