Extra Alarms Called For Chicago Fire

Aug. 28--Chicago firefighters spent hours battling a stubborn blaze in the Englewood neighborhood that started in the basement of a commercial building and snaked its way through the roof of the third floor by the time it was all over.

The fire was first reported after 10:30 p.m. but had escalated to a 3-11 fire before midnight and got worse from there before it got better. No one was injured.

Crews arrived to the building, at the corner of 63rd and Halsted streets in the Englewood neighborhood, about 10:30 p.m. and found fire that was already poking through a window facing a tiny alley to the west.

The building, housing a mattress store and a few clothing stores on the first floor, is the only one on that intersection constructed in the old Chicago style: yellow brick, rectangular with stores below apartments.

Both buildings on the east corners are new and belong to Kennedy King College. The lot on the Northwest Corner is vacant a block in each direction and hidden by a privacy fence used often just before construction begins.

Each escalation of alarms -- to a still and box, then a 2-11 and 3-11 -- brought with it more firefighters and equipment.During the middle of the fire, a small concussion boomed from the inside of the building, shaking the ground slightly outside.

Water came crashing out the east-facing facade, bringing with it a river of debris, apparently after a hole in an upper floor opened up and sent water cascading below.

Crews worked to protect a bank to the west, setting up in an alley barely wide enough for a car, trying to keep the fire back.

Among the specialty equipment in use: a "snorkel" truck that looks like a cherry picker atop a fire engine that's normally kept in reserve and a "deluge" unit meant to draw from many sources and apply massive amounts of water through a single stream.

The extra-alarms were struck out just after 3 a.m. but Chicago Fire Department crews were still at the scene as of about 4:40 a.m.

"We'll be here for awhile," Deputy District Chief Richard C. Ford II said.

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