A massive fire ripped through a warehouse in Chicago's South Side Tuesday night, as firefighters were hampered by bone-chilling temperatures so low that water froze on their uniforms.
The 170 firefighters on the scene battled the elements on two fronts as the monster blaze consumed a warehouse building, endangering an adjacent structure, while temperatures dipped into the single-digits.
Photos taken at the scene showed flames towering above the abandoned warehouse as icicles formed on a fire hose. One photo showed a firefighter with his jacket, hat and gloves caked in chunks of ice.
"This is a major fire," the Chicago Fire Department posted on Twitter, adding that the scale of the response -- five alarms plus two "special" calls for additional trucks -- was "extremely rare."
The fire briefly jumped to a neighboring building, causing concern, according to reports. The adjacent structure is a printing company, the building's owner told NBCChicago.com. He was worried that certain chemicals inside could explode.
Firefighters were also concerned about a nearby fuel pumping station east of the warehouse.
The fire department's messages on Twitter highlighted the intensity of the blaze: "Rear is collapsed. ... North end of building starting to fall. ... (The fire department) will be here for hours."
The department declared the fire under control early Wednesday. By then, the warehouse was sheathed in a thick layer of ice.
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