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Fire and ice: Icicles cover smoky remains of massive Chicago blaze

Firefighters spray down hot spots on an ice covered warehouse that caught fire Tuesday night in Chicago on Jan. 23. Fire department officials said it is the biggest fire the department has had to battle in years and one-third of all Chicago firefighters were on the scene at one point or another trying to put out the flames.
Firefighters spray down hot spots on an ice covered warehouse that caught fire Tuesday night in Chicago on Jan. 23. Fire department officials said it is the biggest fire the department has had to battle in years and one-third of all Chicago firefighters were on the scene at one point or another trying to put out the flames.John Gress / Reuters
A truck is covered in ice as firefighters help to extinguish a massive blaze at a vacant warehouse on Jan. 23 in Chicago, Ill.
A truck is covered in ice as firefighters help to extinguish a massive blaze at a vacant warehouse on Jan. 23 in Chicago, Ill.Scott Olson / Getty Images
A firefighter helps to extinguish a massive blaze at a vacant warehouse on Jan. 23 in Chicago, Ill. More than 200 firefighters battled a five-alarm fire as temperatures were in the single digits.
A firefighter helps to extinguish a massive blaze at a vacant warehouse on Jan. 23 in Chicago, Ill. More than 200 firefighters battled a five-alarm fire as temperatures were in the single digits.Scott Olson / Getty Images
Chicago firefighters battle a five-alarm blaze in single digit temperatures at a warehouse on the city's South Side, Bridgeport neighborhood on Jan. 23 in Chicago.
Chicago firefighters battle a five-alarm blaze in single digit temperatures at a warehouse on the city's South Side, Bridgeport neighborhood on Jan. 23 in Chicago.Charles Rex Arbogast / AP

By John Newland and Daniel Arkin, NBC News

A massive fire ripped through a warehouse in Chicago's South Side Tuesday night, as firefighters were hampered by bone-chilling temperatures so low that water froze on their uniforms.

The 170 firefighters on the scene battled the elements on two fronts as the monster blaze consumed a warehouse building, endangering an adjacent structure, while temperatures dipped into the single-digits.

“This is a major fire,” the Chicago Fire Department posted on Twitter, adding that the scale of the response -- five alarms plus two “special” calls for additional trucks -- was “extremely rare.” Continue reading.

Related: Chicago firefighters battle major blaze in freezing temperatures

Firefighters work to extinguish a massive blaze at a vacant warehouse on Jan. 23 in Chicago.
Firefighters work to extinguish a massive blaze at a vacant warehouse on Jan. 23 in Chicago.Scott Olson / Getty Images