Firefighters needed full day to extinguish Avondale 5-alarm fire - FOX 32 News Chicago

Firefighters needed full day to extinguish Avondale 5-11 alarm fire

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

It took firefighters eight hours to battle a major blaze at an industrial building in Avondale Sunday. They had to return to the warehouse Monday to take care of some remaining hot spots.

Fire officials said it took more than eight hours to douse the fire on the 2600 block of West Nelson.

A demolition crew continued taking the building down Monday morning since there was virtually nothing left – it's just a shell of a building after it collapsed.

The fire, at a four-story mixed use building and warehouse, was raised to a 5-11 alarm after the initial call. The fire was struck out just before 9:30 a.m. Sunday.

Fire department personnel first called for a still-and-box alarm response at about 1:30 a.m. Less than an hour later firefighters took a defensive firefighting attack, meaning that they would not be going into the building, and a 2-11 alarm was called.

Flames spread to all floors of the 400-foot by 400-foot warehouse, and heavy smoke was pouring from the building, according to Fire Media Affairs. By about 4 a.m., when the fire was at a 4-11 stage, fire was through the roof, as well. Portions of walls and the roof of the industrial building collapsed as crews continued to battle the blaze.

About 4:45 a.m., the response was raised to a 5-11 alarm. Chicago Fire Department Commissioner Jose Santiago was at the scene overseeing operations and a total of 204 firefighters and paramedics responded to the fire. A 5-11 alarm brings at least 20 engines, four trucks, two tower ladders, five battalion chiefs, one deputy district chief, one district chief, a deputy fire commissioner, the fire commissioner, a command van and an ambulance to the scene.

Dispatch reports indicated that crews were making progress Sunday morning after positioning 12 large hose lines to douse the fire.

The fire department reported that the fire was under control around 9: 30 a.m. and the 5-11 alarm had been struck out. Flames could still be seen inside the warehouse in the dense but mostly commercial area, and firefighters - who were expected to remain at the scene for the rest of the day - continued to douse the building.

No firefighters were injured as a result of this fire.

"When we heard no one was hurt and the firefighters were safe we," one resident said, "We were quite happy about that."

That Bridgeport resident lives about three blocks away. He told FOX Chicago News that he woke up between 7 and 8 a.m. to a significant amount of smoke in the area. He said he could smell the smoke inside his home.

He and his wife immediately began checking their house for signs of fire, and then heard helicopters and emergency vehicles rushing to the scene. He said they drove to a nearby overpass and saw a substantial amount of smoke coming out of the building.

They saw three to five fire engines pumping water into the building at that time, and saw them working to fully extinguish the fire all day Sunday.

Neighbors from blocks away also said they couldn't escape the thick plume of smoke.

"It was just coming in quite thickly and through our sliding doors and stuff, so it was pretty bad," neighbor Robert Loncardvic said.

Fire officials wouldn't confirm what was inside the warehouse.

FOX Chicago was told by other sources that there was some music equipment inside the building, and possibly motor cycles for a dealership being stored inside that building.

But fire officials did say the main building was divided into several areas, possibly for multiple businesses.

Gary Olson and Chuck McNulty, the drummer and guitar player for the heavy metal band Rival, stood outside to keep an eye on the area of the building where they said they keep "tens of thousands" of dollars worth of music equipment and memorabilia, and where they've rehearsed for five years.

Though it wasn't clear if flames or smoke was coming from their portion of the building, McNulty said the water damage could be just as devastating.

Mike Szczech, who lives in the 2700 block of Nelson, said he believes the building also contains a wrought iron fence company and one or two construction companies. A stack of tires could be seen through an open garage door to the building.

Though the warehouse is in a mostly commercial and industrial area, some residential areas are nearby.

Robert Essex and Tim Weichselbaum watched with Andrea Paugel from the front porch of the home on Elston where the men have lived for about five months.

Weichselbaum said he wasn't worried because he said nobody lives near the flames, but he called the multipurpose warehouse an "eyesore."

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.

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