Water freezes to building as firefighters battle blaze

    12:58 PM, Jan 24, 2013   |    comments
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    CHICAGO, IL (CBS/WBBM) -- It's happened again; more flames and smoke as a warehouse fire in Chicago rekindled. Firefighters were called to the scene early this morning in the bitter, bitter cold. It's been a tough battle for three days now.

    Mammoth hoses are used for a massive effort to knock this fire out completely. Crews rarely use the portable deluge unit but for a stubborn blaze, there's no question.

    Hotspots burst into flames in the old lamp factory. Dep. Fire Commissioner John McNicholas with the Chicago Fire Dept. says, "All we can do is keep throwing water at it, filters down and gets into hotspots."

    But it's no easy task when water freezes and a shell of ice forms around the building. McNicholas says firefighters anticipated this which is why since Tuesday night they never left the scene. McNicholas says, "All that lumber from being heavy mill building concentrated underneath pile after pile, protected, so fire smolders underneath layer of protection and ice that sits on top."

    At the peak of the fire there were 200 firefighters but today it's been scaled back significantly. They're careful not to get too close knowing the building can collapse at any moment. McNichols says, "Holding up, doing well, we have our own rehab unit; duck in and get water, still have to stay hydrated even though it's so cold out."

    The way to get this fire out is to continue to spray water, but also slowly demolish the building. Again, firefighters could be here for days.

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