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Extra-Alarm Fire Engulfs Bridgeport Warehouse

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Firefighters battle an extra-alarm blaze in a vacant warehouse at 3757 S. Ashland Av. on Jan. 22, 2013. (Credit: Chicago Fire Department)

Firefighters battle an extra-alarm blaze in a vacant warehouse at 3757 S. Ashland Av. on Jan. 22, 2013. (Credit: Chicago Fire Department)

UPDATED: 1/23/2013 6:45 a.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) – Firefighters remained at the scene of an extra-alarm blaze at a large vacant warehouse in the Bridgeport neighborhood on Wednesday morning.

On Tuesday night, a 5-11 alarm, and two special alarms were called for the fire, bringing more than 50 fire companies and nearly 200 firefighters to the scene at 3757 S. Ashland Av., on the western edge of Bridgeport, next to the McKinley Park neighborhood.

Fire crews remained on the scene on Wednesday morning to put out hot spots remaining from the huge fire. The view from Chopper 2 showed the fire was still burning in spots on the interior of the building, beyond the reach of the tower ladder hoses.

Ashland Avenue was closed between 35th and 39th streets. Not only were crews battling a huge amount of flames, but the coldest weather in about two years also played a factor.

“It’s a massive fire,” said First Deputy Cmsr. Charles Stewart. “One challenge is the weather.”

Huge amounts of ice encased the outside of the warehouse on Wednesday morning.

Fire crews were still pouring water on a warehouse after a massive blaze overnight. (Credit: Susanna Song/CBS)

Fire crews were still pouring water on a warehouse after a massive blaze overnight. (Credit: Susanna Song/CBS)

“We haven’t had a fire this big in many years,” said fire department spokesman Larry Langford.

The Fire Department said about a third of the city’s fire vehicles were involved in battling the blaze, which started around 9:15 p.m.

Flames had engulfed all floors of a vacant multi-story warehouse, and the building collapsed in the blaze, according to the Fire Department. On Wednesday morning much of the building had turned into a giant “ice cube,” Langford said.

“This would be what’s called a ‘heavy timber building’,” Langford said. He was unable to say who owned the building, which apparently had been boarded up for years.

The fire jumped to a neighboring warehouse at 3801 S. Ashland Av. while firefighters were at the scene.

One firefighter suffered a back injury and was taken to the hospital.

Doc Luis, 41, an artist who lives about a block away from the blaze, said he had just returned home with coffee and went to his roof to watch the blaze.

“Embers lit up the night sky,” Luis recalled. “It was insane.”

Firefighters pour water on an ice-covered warehouse on Wednesday. (Susanna Song/CBS)

Firefighters pour water on an ice-covered warehouse on Wednesday. (Susanna Song/CBS)

In the past, homeless people had apparently started small fires in the building to keep warm, Luis said.

Officials did not know the cause of the fire.

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.

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed

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