SW Side fire reignites inside warehouse covered in ice - New York News

SW Side fire reignites inside warehouse covered in ice

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CHICAGO (Sun-Times Media Wire) -

Flames flared up again Thursday morning at a South Side warehouse where fire officials said the largest fire in "many years" took place earlier this week.

The blaze was never fully extinguished when it initially erupted Tuesday night at an abandoned warehouse near Ashland Avenue and 38th Street in the Bridgeport neighborhood, said Deputy Fire Commisioner John McNicholas. The fire was merely contained, he said, contradicting earlier statements Thursday from Fire Media Affairs that the fire had rekindled.

"As that fire starts to fester itself, eventually it gets enough air again and this is what you see here," McNicholas said. "There's a big concern of collapse. We know the structure has been compromised from the fire as well as from the ice that's sitting on it."

McNicholas estimated that the building is coated with 6 to 8 inches of ice.

PHOTOS: South Side warehouse fire biggest since 2006

About 50 firefighters were at the warehouse Thursday morning and would work in rotating shifts to douse any flare-ups for the next few days, a fire official said. To help contain the fire, firefighters will use a "deluge unit" that pumps water out faster and stronger than a hose, the official said.

A preliminary investigation Wednesday focused on only one part of the building where the fire was first seen, McNicholas said. Results of the investigation are still being processed.

Investigators continue to look for clues as to what caused the fire, McNicholas said, adding that squatters could have been a factor.

On Tuesday, more than 170 firefighters battled the five-alarm blaze that engulfed the warehouse and jumped to another structure.

"We haven't had a fire this big in many years," Fire Media Affairs Director Larry Langford said late Tuesday.

One firefighter suffered a minor back injury and was taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn.

The "extreme" fire was so extensive, emergency crews called two more special alarms, sending roughly one-third of the city's total firefighting power then to help, officials said.

Langford said he could not recall a blaze requiring that much manpower since the December 2004 blaze in the 100 block of S. La Salle Street.

On Tuesday night, flames were "out of control" on all floors in the abandoned warehouse where the fire began, but crews were gaining control of the fire by 11:15 p.m., according to the Fire Department.

The roof and three walls of the 200-foot by 200-foot structure collapsed as crews fought the flames. The fire jumped to another building in the 3800 block of S. Ashland Ave., but firefighters halted the blaze from consuming that building.

"We took that out right away," Langford said.

"If this had gotten any bigger we would have called suburban firefighters to cover some fire houses," he added.

"It's turning into a big ice cube now," Langford said.

Reports and photos of the fire spread across social media. The blaze could be seen from miles away.

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