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Extra-Alarm Fire Guts Northwest Side Warehouse

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Firefighters battle an extra-alarm blaze at a warehouse on the West Side on Friday. (Credit: CBS)

Firefighters battle an extra-alarm blaze at a warehouse on the West Side on Friday. (Credit: CBS)

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Updated 01/03/14 – 2:55 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) – An extra-alarm fire destroyed a large warehouse Friday morning in the Hanson Park neighborhood on the Northwest Side.

Firefighters were on the scene of a 3-11 alarm fire at 1945 N. Latrobe Av., according to a Fire Department spokesperson.

The building is a one-story warehouse owned by Advanced On-Site Concrete, which supplies redi-mix concrete, and supplies for masonry work. The company employs 18 workers.

CBS 2’s Chris Martinez reports three workers were inside when the fire started around 9:15 a.m., but made it out safely. A 3-11 alarm was called at about 9:45 a.m. — bringing about 125 firefighters, 12 engines, 4 trucks, and 2 tower ladders, 5 battalion chiefs, a deputy district chief, a district chief, a deputy fire commissioner, a command van, and an ambulance to the scene.

The warehouse stores cement mixer trucks, and other masonry and construction equipment. The Fire Department said the warehouse also stored propane tanks.

Crews used a defensive approach to put out the fire as propane tanks and truck tires exploded inside the inferno.

“The fire had a pretty good head of steam before we got here,” said Deputy Fire Cmsr. John McNicholas.

Two sections of the roof at the warehouse collapsed during the blaze. Three people were working inside the building and escaped without injury.

The Fire Department said the structure was a total loss, and eventually must be torn down.

The 3-11 alarm was struck out by 10:20 a.m., but crews remained on the scene, extinguishing smaller fires in the rubble.

The frigid conditions made an already difficult job a bigger challenge for firefighters, as temperatures were in the single digits when the fire started, with winds of up to 10 mph creating a wind chill of 7 below zero.

The extreme cold created ice on fire hydrants and engines.

“All of our ladders have to be worked up an down periodically to break ice,” Assistant Deputy Fire Cmsr. Mark Nielsen said.

In total, it took 100 firefighters to knock out the blaze.

“The building is a total loss,” Nielsen said.

The cause of the fire was under investigation.

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