LASALLE, Ill. (CBS) -- It took five hours to bring a fire under control at a chemical plant in the small city of LaSalle on Wednesday afternoon.
The fire was still smoldering for several more hours after that in the city of less than 10,000...
...The fire sent plumes of thick, colorful smoke billowing into the air as if a volcano were erupting. Residents were told to stay in their homes for safety.
The fire started around 9 a.m. at Carus LLC in LaSalle, about 80 miles southwest of Chicago. In a statement, company officials said the fire started in the plant's shipping area.
LaSalle Fire Chief Jerry Janick said there was heavy fire at the plant when the first crews arrived on the scene, and additional crews were brought in from surrounding suburbs.
...Gibbs said potassium permanganate is typically a fine powder, but will turn into purple liquid if it is exposed to water. It may look slightly pink or green when it is comes into contact with water.
The potassium permanganate turned cars brown with its stains. Much as Gibbs described it, the chemical also made nearby waterways look like they were full of grape soda.
LaSalle Police also said an oxidizer has been released in the area as a result of the fire, and people should not touch the green substance seen on cars and patios.
It's never good when there is a chemical plant explosion, but a highly colored/staining chemical like permanganate cannot be easy to explain to the neighbors...