The identities of two workers found in the rubble of a Waukegan plant following an explosion last week have been released.
Jeff Cummings, 57, of Kenosha and Byron H. Biehn, 53, of Brighton Township, Wisconsin were both killed in the blast at AB Specialty Silicones plant Friday. Autopsies were conducted Monday but the results were still pending toxicology, according to Lake County Coroner Howard Cooper.
Authorities had already identified Allen Stevens among the victims after the 29-year-old passed away at an area hospital following the explosion.
“We are heartbroken by this tragedy," Biehn's family said in a statement. "Byron was a beloved husband, father, son (in-law), bother (in-law), Godfather, uncle, and friend to many. We are so very grateful for the outpouring of prayers and support for Byron and our family. We ask that you keep the victims, their families, and the first responders in your prayers."
The family said Biehn was a longtime employee with the company.
Crews were still sifting through the building's crumbled facade Tuesday as they searched for another worker who remained missing but was presumed dead.
"This is by no means over until we've located all victims," Waukegan Fire Marshal Steve Lenzi said.
An investigation into what happened remained ongoing and an exact cause had not been determined as of Tuesday.
A charred metal frame and piles of debris are all that remain after the deadly explosion Friday night.
"The biggest problem here is this is a very unstable building so we had to take it down piece by piece," Cooper said. "It’s a really slow process and it’s very dangerous."
Those who died are being hailed as heroes. Investigators said they noticed a problem and were helping their coworkers exit the building when it burst into flames.
The explosion was so intense it even damaged a neighboring plant.
Officials say that when firefighters arrived at the scene, they noted heavy damage and a massive fire. Rescue workers also encountered injured workers from the plant and transported them to local hospitals. Other neighboring fire departments were called in to help battle the massive fire.
An investigator from the Illinois State Fire Marshal’s office has been at the scene to evaluate the cause of the explosion, but has not released any findings at this time.
The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency has also announced that after extensive air quality and water monitoring tests that there is no danger posed to the public by the aftermath of the explosion. OSHA investigators have also been called to evaluate the incident.
"We are shocked and heartbroken by the tragedy that occurred in our plant last night," AB Speciality Silicones GM Mac Penman said in a statement. "We have spent the day trying our best to support all of the members of our AB family as we attempt to process this terrible loss together.
"We want to express our extreme gratitude to all the first responders who arrived at the scene. We continue to work closely with the Waukegan Fire Department and the Illinois Fire Marshal as they secure the scene and complete their investigation," he added.