Update 3:52 p.m.: It took nearly three hours in extremely cold weather for fire crews from Evanston and several neighboring towns to extinguish a house fire at 2519 Harrison St.

After fighting the fire from inside the building for nearly a half hour, crews were ordered to evacuate the building and continue to fight it from the outside. They returned to the building and evacuated it again, and then returned to the building a third time as conditions changed during the course of the blaze.

The fire was first reported shortly before 1 p.m. and as of shortly after 3 p.m. firefighters were still trying to bring it under control.

The fire apparently started in the third floor of the more than century-old Victorian home and efforts to fight it were hampered by difficulty in gaining access to the attic area. A neighbor said that new owners moved into the house late last year and were believed to be doing some remodeling work on the third floor.

A firefighter tries to catch his breath after emerging from the burning home.

A firefighter reaches for a ladder as he leans out a third-story window.

Police blocked off traffic on McDaniel Avenue between Central and Lincoln Streets near the fire scene.

Evanston Fire Chief Greg Klaiber issued three separate calls for reinforcements from other communities as the fire continued to resist efforts to bring it under control.

The fire still burning more than two hours after it began.

With the extremely cold weather, there also was a need to frequently relieve the firefighters who were actively battling the blaze. City buses and other vehicles were brought to the scene to provide a place for firefighters to warm up between their shifts on the line.

Red Cross volunteers were also on the scene.

The six family members home at the time of the fire reportedly got out of the building safely on their own.

Update 4:11 p.m.: Just moments ago there was a report of a firefighter down on the first floor of the building. He was located quickly and is being transported to Evanston Hospital.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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