Extra-alarm fire at Humboldt Park warehouse injures 1

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Fire investigators are looking into the cause of a massive warehouse fire that burned Friday morning in Chicago's Humboldt Park neighborhood. (WLS)

A man was seriously injured Friday morning in an extra-alarm fire at a vacant warehouse on Chicago's West Side.

Fire crews responded around 4 a.m. to the large building near West Grand and North Homan avenues. Huge flames were shooting out of the second floor.

A third alarm was called, bringing a total of about 125 firefighters to the scene. They worked for hours to get the blaze under control and went into defensive mode after the roof collapsed.

The fire was under control by around 6:10 a.m. Firefighters then used ladders and hoses to extinguish hot spots.

Firefighters said a man who may have been walking by the building when the fire started suffered a leg injury. He was transported to Stroger Hospital, where he is listed in serious condition.

Neighbors said this warehouse is frequented by homeless people. Two people told ABC7 Eyewitness News they were taking refuge inside the building when the flames ignited. They did not want to be identified, but described their escape.

"I had to grab a brick, come to the window. We had to bust out the whole window. They had the slab, a tiny little space to jump out the window, about four or five people," one woman said.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

"I talked to police and fire and Building Department and they have been boarding this building up constantly," said 27th Ward Alderman Walter Burnett.

Alderman Burnett said the city Buildings Department and Cook County Land Bank was working with a developer to get this warehouse rehabbed. The current owner has been delinquent on his taxes by more than $1 million. He's hoping the fire will not scare off a potential developer who planned to renovate the building.

The Department of Buildings said a structural engineer to evaluate the structural integrity of the building and determine if the building can be saved.

The department released a statement saying, "DOB's first priority is to save buildings wherever possible, and we have been actively working for the past year to find a new use for the building. In fact, the Department of Law had been preparing a motion, filed this morning, to assign ownership to the Cook County Land Bank at a court hearing scheduled for June 27, 2017, who in turn would prepare to transfer the property to an interested developer. DOB inspectors have also been regularly monitoring this building, and we immediately board-up and secure when we find the building open - at the cost of approximately $10,000 to date."

About 5:30 a.m., another fire broke out on the first floor of a vacant building about three miles away, in the 200-block of North Laflin Street in Chicago's West Town neighborhood. No one was hurt in that blaze.

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.

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