Fire & Ice: Chicago’s frozen warehouse fire

I woke up yesterday, tossing and turning with all kinds of thoughts and ideas running through my head as I came up with concepts for a photo shoot I have on Friday. Then, the phone rang, it was Reuters Editor Hans Deryk asking me to take photos of a warehouse fire, apologizing for the early call. I told him, “Are you kidding me? I have been waiting for this for 10 years!”

Firefighters spray hotspots on January 23, 2013 on an Ice covered warehouse that caught fire Tuesday night in Chicago. Fire Department officials said it is the biggest fire the department has had to battle in years. One-third of all Chicago firefighters were on the scene at one point or another trying to put out the flames. ÊAn Arctic blast continues to gripped theÊU.S. MidwestÊand Northeast Wednesday, with at least three deaths linked to the frigidÊweather, and fierce winds made some locations feel asÊcoldÊas 50 degrees below zero Fahrenheit. (minus 46 degrees Celsius) REUTERS/John Gress (UNITED STATES) Ever since I moved to Chicago I have heard about houses and buildings encased in ice following fires and yet I have never seen one with my own eyes. Keep in mind, it rarely snows in my native Portland, Oregon, so winter is a bit of a treat.

Getting to the scene, I started to scope things out, seeing where pictures looked their best and feeling out how the police would act as I got close. Thankfully, today they were more concerned with keeping the public back and less inclined to exit their warm squad cars to keep the press at bay.

While the leeward side of the building was covered in ice, making great frames of icicle covered windows and firefighters in aerial platforms spaying down hot spots, I knew I had to make my way all around the building.

Once I made my way over ice, icy water and a little debris, I was on the windward side of the warehouse, sucking smoke and looking at trucks encased in ice, leaving my mind to wonder if their windows would still be intact once they thaw.

This winter wonderland is where I found Chicago Fire Department Lieutenant Charley De Jesus, making his way over the ice, keeping an eye on his men and occasionally breaking through a top layer of the glaze and sinking down to the snow and slush below.

It’s about this time that the inevitable happened… the hole in my boot that I had been thinking about ever since I left the house was now betraying me. So much for dry socks!

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