Officials Investigate Cause of Avondale Warehouse Fire

Demolition continued throughout the night

Investigators will continue their investigation Monday of what caused a massive warehouse fire on Chicago's Northwest Side.

Crews worked through the night to tear down the Avondale structure as safety concerns remained. Firefighters said the water tower perched on top of the building is an immediate concern and it must come down. 

More than 200 firefighters responded around 1:30 a.m. Sunday to the fire at the four-story mixed use building and warehouse in the 2600 block of West Nelson Avenue. As the fire spread, the blaze quickly was upgraded to a 5-alarm fire.

Michael Fox, chief of special operations for the Chicago Fire Department, said the hardest part was finding the fire's source in the maze of area buildings.

"By the time they found it, it was too much, so we backed out and went into defensive mode," Fox said.

As the fire raged on, smoke settled over the neighborhood and building walls began to collapse. It took eight hours to put out the flames. Though no one lived in the warehouse, the businesses renting space inside were devastated by the loss.

"I'm literally shocked right now, trying to figure out how I'm going to start over," said Craig Sellers, whose custom woodwork business used to be on the first floor.

Gary Olson and Chuck McNulty rented space at the warehouse for more than five years.

"This is our second home," said McNulty.

Their band, Rival, spent hours every week rehearsing in the space. McNulty, guitarist for Rival, lost equipment in fire.

"We have all of our musical gear, equipment, merchandise,  memories, you name it," McNulty said. "It is all going up in flames as we speak."

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