Updated 05/29/12 – 8:18 p.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) — CTA trains on the Red, Brown, and Purple Lines were shut down in the Lincoln Park neighborhood for nearly three hours Tuesday afternoon, after an extra-alarm fire broke out at a furniture store next to the ‘L’ tracks.
CBS 2’s Brad Edwards reports the fire broke out around 3:20 p.m. at Roy’s Furniture at 2455 N. Sheffield Av., and was elevated to a 3-11 alarm around 3:45 p.m.
Fire Department officials said the two-story building was “fully involved” and the fire has caused heavy damage.
Deputy Fire Cmsr. Michael Callahan said the fire was very difficult because of all the wooden furniture and mattresses inside the building, which was in danger of collapsing. The fire spread quickly, and winds created a risk of spreading the fire to neighboring buildings and the adjacent ‘L’ tracks.
The 3-11 alarm was struck out around 6:30 p.m., although crews remained on the scene. Shortly after 8 p.m., fire officials said the fire was still active inside, due to burning furniture.
During the fire, the CTA’s Red and Brown Lines were shut down near the scene of the fire, and the Purple Line Express was shut down altogether. The Red and Brown Lines began running again around 6:30 p.m.
As of 8 p.m., the Red Line was running normally again. Northbound Brown Line trains were also running normally, but southbound trains were bypassing the Diversey and Wellington stops. Southbound Brown Line passengers were advised to get off at Fullerton and take a northbound train back to those two stations. Those who normally board southbound trains at Diversey or Wellington were advised to board northbound trains to Belmont, then get on a southbound train.
The Purple Line Express was still shut down between the Howard station and the Loop, although local service was running north of the Howard station.
The CTA’s #11 Lincoln/Sedgwick bus route is also being detoured around the scene of the fire.
Further hampering the rush hour commute for many mass transit passengers, a person was struck by a Metra Union Pacific North train around 4:30 p.m. in the Ravenswood neighborhood, leading to delays of up to two hours on that line.
A couple students from DePaul University, which is just south of the furniture store, said they were walking by the building Tuesday afternoon when the fire broke out, and as they were watching firefighters work at the scene, a car parked in a loading bay at the furniture store exploded after it became engulfed in flames.
Rachel Bokina said she was struck by flying debris when the car exploded.
“We just walked, and I was close to the building, so I didn’t see it going on. She saw it first. I took a step, and then all of a sudden the car exploded, and I felt this heat, and I got this rubble on my arm. Scary,” she said.
The fire apparently started in the rear of the furniture store, close to the ‘L’ tracks, prompting the decision to shut down the three train lines.