More than 200 firefighters had fought the fire, which was spotted by a passing fire chief about 9 p.m. Tuesday, the Chicago Tribune reported. Their efforts were hampered by frozen hydrants and icy ladders, the newspaper said.
The five-alarm fire in the Bridgeport neighborhood on Chicago's South Side spread throughout the warehouse quickly and wasn't brought under control about 12:30 a.m.
"This was a very large fire, unbelievable fire load, a lot of wood, timber, old stuff, varnish," said Chicago Fire Commissioner Jose Santiago, who labeled it the city's largest fire in seven years. "Once it caught, it caught and ran."
WLS-TV, Chicago, reported there was no one in the building at the time and firefighters forced to battle the blaze from a distance, the only injury was to one firefighter who slipped on ice and hurt his back.
The warehouse fire broke out the same day a fire in a 16-story Chicago high-rise killed two men and seriously injured a woman, the Tribune said. The blaze on the seventh floor of the South Shore apartment building killed cable TV contract workers Jameel Johnson, 36, and John Fasula, 50, who had gone back into the burning apartment with fire extinguishers after rescuing an 81-year-old woman.
They apparently were overcome by smoke. The woman was listed in critical condition from smoke inhalation, police said.