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Bridgeport Warehouse Fire Reignites, Crews Could Be On Scene For Days

By  Geoff Ziezulewicz and Emily Morris | January 24, 2013 6:42am | Updated on January 24, 2013 11:14am

BRIDGEPORT — Less than two days after a fire raged in a vacant Bridgeport warehouse — a blaze officials said was the city's largest in about eight years — the building again caught fire.

Personnel were called back to the scene at 38th Street and South Ashland Avenue after what officials described as a rekindling of the flames Thursday morning.

In frigid temperatures, fire trucks blasted water as yellowish-gray smoke billowed into the morning air. Large clouds of smoke could be seen from about half-mile away.

The Chicago Fire Department also brought out its old but trusty deluge unit. The "vintage" item, made in 1969 or 1970, is rarely used but still works to put out fires, the department's media office said.

The trucks blasted 2,500 gallons of icy water per minute, firefighters said. In using what firefighters called "water carnival" and "surround and drown" methods, they doused all sides of the warehouse.

Crews had been onsite all night watching hot spots, one firefighter said. All five floors of the warehouse have collapsed, resulting in large amounts of rubble that are difficult to extinguish, he said. In a Thursday morning tweet, the Fire Department said crews likely will be on the scene for days.

The building, largely made of wood, burned easily and will likely need to be torn down, the firefighter said.

A few other emergency vehicles surrounded the area, though the number of personnel and visibility of the flames was small by comparison to the original blaze Tuesday night.

About 200 firefighters battled colossal flames at 3757 S. Ashland Ave. shortly after 9 p.m. that night. A firefighter suffered a minor injury to his back, officials said.

The cause of the fire is unknown, but officials haven't ruled out that the blaze could have been started by squatters, said Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford.

Because of all the ice and debris, "getting in there to see anything is going to be difficult," said Langford.

The department continued Wednesday dousing the building, which by then had gone from fiery inferno to ice palace.

Officials said the extra-alarm fire was the largest since the LaSalle Bank headquarters downtown caught fire on Dec. 6, 2004.