MAPLETON — Firefighters extinguished a blaze Thursday afternoon at the LANXESS chemical plant in Mapleton.

The fire sprang from a tank of chemicals after a technical malfunction around 2 p.m., said Joe Needham, chief deputy for the Peoria County Sheriff's Office.

Needham said the chemical was a type of alkali and aluminum compound that burns when exposed to air and explodes when exposed to water. Other chemical means had to be used to extinguish the fire.

"Our deputies could see flames from a distance away," Needham said.

No one was hurt, and workers evacuated the facility before returning to the plant about 3 p.m. Thursday.

“The safety of our employees, processes, the community and the environment are primary concerns of LANXESS.” said Antonis Papadourakis, CEO & president of LANXESS Corporation, in a news release. “The team reacted according to safety procedures, which resulted in no one being hurt in today's incident.”

Workers at the neighboring Evonik plant also were evacuated as a precautionary measure.

The news release said LANXESS is a special chemicals company with 75 production sites in 25 different countries. The Mapleton plant, located at 8220 W. Route 24, is part of the company's production network in industrial chemistry and organometallic chemistry.