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Large fire spreads in building on Chicago's West Side, second in 2 days

Second massive fire in 24 hours breaks out on Chicago's West Side
Second massive fire in 24 hours breaks out on Chicago's West Side 03:08

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A large fire creating huge amounts of smoke broke out at a building on Chicago's West Side Wednesday evening, the second massive fire in the city within two days—and even within 24 hours.

Fire crews sprayed water from multiple angles at the building in 2800 block of West Grand Avenue, near the intersection with California Avenue in the Humboldt Park neighborhood. Large amounts of smoke were visible from the air.

Chicago Fire Department 1st District Chief Jim McDonough said the first companies were at the scene at 6:06 p.m. They found heavy fire in the cluster of structures, and everyone had evacuated by the time they arrived.

The front part of the building, carrying an address of 2810 W. Grand Ave., is a three-story office building—which survived the fire, McDonough said.

Behind it is one truss-roofed structure that housed an auto body shop, and another that houses a landscaping company and a car and truck battery operation, McDonough said. These areas saw the heavy fire.

The Chicago Fire Department called a 3-11 alarm, which automatically sends 12 fire engines, four fire trucks, and two tower ladders, among other pieces of equipment. More than 200 firefighters also responded, and battled 90-degree heat.

The plume of smoke and the orange glow of the fire stood out as the sun began to set Wednesday evening. The fire burned for several hours, and it could be seen from blocks away.

It was not clear where in the building the fire started, but it quickly grew. Because of the magnitude of the blaze, combined with the hot weather, the CFD brought in extra crews to help relieve the men and women putting in the work.

Meanwhile, the wind sent much of the thick smoke blowing north right in the direction of people's homes.

"It was a tough start for them, so we did check on those. So those buildings to the north—there's some residential structures on the California side," McDonough said.

McDonough said the batteries were not destroyed in the fire, and nothing was found that created a hazardous materials situation. Still, some special foam was made available just in case the batteries did catch fire.

The exact cause of the fire was unclear Wednesday night. By 8 p.m., the Fire Department said the fire had been put out, and there were no injures reported.

Firefighters were expected to remain on the scene until midnight looking for hot spots, McDonough said.

Wednesday's fire came just one day after another massive fire completely destroyed a pallet repair business in the 2000 block of West Hubbard Street that required nearly 300 firefighters and 80 different pieces of equipment to get under control.

Some of the same firefighters were out battling the pallet company fire Tuesday night in West Town. In that fire, some 20,000 wooden pallets burned for hours, and the smoke blanketed the West Side and parts of downtown.

Both fires come as hot, dry conditions have smothered the Chicago area with temperatures in the high 80s and even into the 90s.

The fact that two huge fires broke out within a day of each other in the same general part of the city leaves many people to wonder if there's something more going on. But the CFD said there is no reason to believe the fires Tuesday and Wednesday evening are connected at this time.

Grand Avenue remained closed as of 10 p.m.

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