Chicago Firefighters Battle Fire And Ice At Warehouse
A Chicago firefighter's helmet is covered with ice from single digit temperatures during a five-alarm blaze in a warehouse on the city's South Side, Bridgeport neighborhood Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
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(ABC NEWS)--Chicago firefighters were still trying to put out hot spots Wednesday at a huge warehouse fire that broke out in Bridgeport Tuesday.
The fire broke out Tuesday night at 37th Street and Ashland Avenue.
Chicago Fire Department (CFD) officials say it is the biggest fire the department has had to battle in years. One-third of all Chicago firefighters were on the scene at one point or another trying to put out the flames.
Firefighters eventually did extinguish the fire after battling brutal conditions. Flames spread through the large abandoned warehouse, and the glow from the huge blaze could be seen from ABC7 Chicago's camera on top of the Willis Tower.
"This was a very large fire, unbelievable fire load, wood, timber, old stuff, varnish," said Chicago Fire Department Cmsr. Jose Santiago. "Once it caught, it caught and ran."
A CFD battalion chief who was driving nearby was the first to spot the flames. He called for help, but as the fire grew quickly, more than 200 firefighters were called to the scene.
"Everything is wood inside, beautiful faade on the outside. When they start burning like this, they start coming down," Santiago said.
The fire burned through roof and caused some of the floors to collapse. Because of fears that the more of the building could come crashing down, crews had to fight the fire from a safe distance.
They also tried to stop the fire from spreading to neighboring buildings.
In addition to dealing with the blaze, the frigid temperatures also made it a challenge for firefighters.
"We run into a lot of problems, ice on building and ladders," said Santiago. "Steam streets are all iced up right now."
The investigation into what caused the fire will move forward Wednesday, and it will also take a long time to clean up at the scene.