The evacuation order in Morris has been extended. The order was first issued on Tuesday afternoon after a fire at the Old Morris Paper Mill Plant. Authorities learned that the fire contained lithium batteries which caused toxic smoke to emanate from the facility. There may be anywhere from 180,000 to 200,000 pounds of lithium batteries. It’s believed that water may have seeped into the building from the recent rains and came into contact with the batteries which caused the incident to occur.
Anyone living in the 900 block of Benton, Douglas or Armstrong Streets were asked to evacuate their residences. About 1,000 homes and 3,000 people have been evacuated. The evacuation order will now be in place until Friday.
On Wednesday night the Morris Fire Department poured 28 tons of cement on the batteries in an attempt to smother the fire. Chief Tracey Steffes said the cement has been successful in stopping the fire and toxic smoke but that the site is still too hot to attempt to remove the batteries. It could be several days before that happens.