Firefighters battle West Town blaze and weather's high heat

The three-alarm — soon upgraded to a four-alarm — fire broke out about 5:45 p.m. Tuesday at Commercial Pallet, according to the Chicago Fire Department. Crews were rotated out as high temperatures and humidity made the firefight more difficult.

SHARE Firefighters battle West Town blaze and weather's high heat
Massive fire and huge clouds of black smoke dwarf a firefighter on top of one of the many truck roofs visible as a firetruck is parked beside him.

A massive fire broke out in West Town about 5:45 p.m. Tuesday at Commercial Pallet, 2029 W. Hubbard St. The fire started in a warehouse where wooden pallets are stored. Two firefighters were treated at a hospital for minor injuries.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Chicago fire crews battled a massive extra-alarm fire Tuesday at a commercial building in West Town.

The three-alarm blaze broke out about 5:45 p.m. Tuesday at Commercial Pallet, 2029 W. Hubbard St., according to the Chicago Fire Department. It was upgraded to a four-alarm fire shortly before 7 p.m.

A number of pallets at the building were ablaze, producing billowing smoke that could be seen for miles. More than 200 firefighters and multiple engines worked to put out the fire, officials said.

Chief Jim McDonough, of the Chicago Fire Department’s 1st District, said at a news conference at the scene that the owner reported there were 20,000 pallets stored on the property. McDonough said the fire was believed to have started in the warehouse where the pallets are located.

Firemen stand next to firetrucks in front of the fire, with giant black clouds of smoke above.

The fire was upgraded to a four-alarm fire shortly before 7 p.m.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

He said the business employs 18 people but closed at 3 p.m., so the building was empty when the fire started.

Firefighters battled not only the heat from the flames but also the scorching 90-degree weather, he said.

“It’s very warm out tonight, we had to switch guys up, rotate them to get them checked out,” he said. “Refreshments, take their blood pressure, make sure they’re OK.”

Smoke from a West Town blaze, set against a blue sky with some white clouds, seen from Logan Square as it billows above trees, rooftops and part of the Chicago skyline.

Smoke from a West Town blaze seen from Logan Square.

Sophie Sherry/Sun-Times

McDonough said two firefighters suffered “very minor” injuries and were taken to a hospital in good condition. No other injuries were reported.

The Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications said the fire damaged a nearby train track. Metra’s Union Pacific West, Milwaukee District West, Milwaukee North and North Central Service lines were stopped due to the damage, the agency said. All rail service was restored by 8 p.m.

The cause of the fire was under investigation.

Chicago fire crews remained at the site throughout the night to make sure flames didn’t reignite. There was a small rekindle, but firefighters cleared the scene early Wednesday morning, officials said.

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