Pritzker Administration Issues Disaster Proclamation for Grundy County in Response to Lithium Battery Fire

State of Illinois to Provide Emergency Operational Support to Local Community

Governor JB Pritzker issued a disaster proclamation for Grundy County in response to an industrial fire in Morris.  A disaster proclamation grants the State of Illinois the ability to expedite the use of state resources, personnel or equipment, and allows the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) to procure additional resources to help the county respond to the disaster.

“Protecting the health and safety of every resident in Illinois is a top priority for my administration and this disaster proclamation will allow us to provide the full scale of support and tools needed for Grundy County,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “State agencies have been on the ground since the day the fire broke out and we will continue to support the local community in the days and weeks ahead.”

Tuesday’s fire in Morris prompted a one square mile evacuation around the paper mill, impacting nearly 5,000 residents.  Reports indicate the facility contained more than 180,000 pounds of lithium batteries, a hazardous material that releases a toxic vapor when ignited.

In response to the fire, Governor Pritzker activated the State Emergency Operation Center to mobilize emergency response personnel and operational facilities to monitor the fire response. State resources dispatched to the scene include specialized crews from the Illinois State Police and Illinois National Guard’s 5th Civil Support Team based in Bartonville. These teams are used to support the local jurisdictions as they make public health and environmental recommendations to keep the general public safe.

Additional personnel from the following State agencies and organizations are responding to this emergency:

  • Illinois Emergency Management Agency
  • Illinois State Police
  • Illinois Department of Transportation
  • Illinois Department of Public Health
  • Illinois Environmental Protection Agency
  • Office of State Fire Marshal
  • Illinois National Guard
  • Mutual Aid Box Alarm System (MABAS)
  • American Red Cross
  • Salvation Army


People will be allowed to return to their home in Morris on Friday afternoon. Fire crews say the evacuation near the old paper mill in town will last until 4:00pm on Friday. Fire crews yesterday said they were able to smother the thousands of burning lithium batteries with 28 tons of cement. There are no more flames and no more smoke. The Illinois EPA yesterday asked the state’s attorney general to look into the fire and see if charges may be brought.