Huge fire burns West Town pallet yard to the ground as hundreds of Chicago firefighters battle blaze

Wednesday, June 19, 2024
Rubble of West Town business destroyed in fire still smoldering
Nearly 24 hours after a massive fire destroyed a West Town pallet warehouse on Hubbard Street, the rubble is still smoldering.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A West Town pallet company is still smoldering Wednesday afternoon, nearly 24 hours after it was destroyed in a massive fire.

Strong morning winds reignited some flames at the site of the pallet fire, prompting a swift response from the fire department.

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Stacks and stacks of pallets burned to the ground in the 2000-block of West Hubbard Street Tuesday evening.

The inferno sent smoke and flames into the sky, a blaze that could be seen for miles. Three hundred firefighters battled the monstrous fire for hours on Tuesday.

"It was windy enough that once that thing started rolling, it created its own wind," CFD Chief Jim McDonough said. "We were very fortunate do to the aggressive attack, these guys works their butts off, to keep this thing in the original fire building."

Adam Clark, who owns Pedal to the People Bike Shop across the street, is grateful his business was not damaged.

"I saw the smoke and wasn't sure what the heck is going on," he said. "Thirty seconds after the smoke started coming out, we saw flames."

Fire crews monitored hot spots overnight before ultimately reopening West Hubbard just before 7 a.m. Wednesday.

Erik Lowe, who works in the area, said he was rock climbing in Lincoln Park as the pallet company burned.

"We walked out the door and you could see the billow of smoke across the sky," Lowe said. "It was just an absolute fireball inferno for like a block. It was incredible."

The fire burned at Corporate Pallet Inc., a family-owned business serving Chicago since 1978, according to its website.

Business owners did not want to comment on the fire. An initial search of online building records show no complaints or violations in the past five years, and no major issues prior to that.

"It's a travesty," Clark said. "I hope they can recover in any way they can."

Nearby neighbors Daniel Krzyzanowski and his girlfriend Rahela Tanase witnessed the blaze.

"You were hearing helicopters, drones, the cops on the bikes, the emergency vehicles and it didn't stop for a while," Tanase said.

"Flames were coming up through the roof, you could see it from a couple blocks over. Everyone was hammering to get a better view of it," Krzyzanowski said.

Fire officials said nearly 20 employees were on site at the time of the fire but all made it out safely.

Two firefighters were taken to local hospitals with minor injuries.

Chicago fire investigators are investigating the cause of Tuesday's massive fire.

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