A fire broke out this afternoon in a construction area at the north end of the Evanston Hospital complex on Ridge Avenue.

Evanston Fire Chief Alan Berkowsky, interviewed at the scene, said it appeared the fire broke out in insulation or other construction material where the area under construction adjoins the existing hospital building.

Berkowsky says it appeared to have started on the third floor and spread quickly to the fifth floor.

As a precaution, some staff and ambulatory patients were moved out of the area closest to the fire and some gathered along Ridge Avenue to watch the firefighters work.

Berkowsky says crews extended an aerial ladder to the top of the new cancer treatment wing being constructed at the hospital while other firefighters approached the flames from inside the existing structure.

The fire was first reported shortly before 3 p.m.

Berkowsky says fire units from surrounding communities as far away as Park Ridge were called in almost immediately in case the situation had turned out to be more serious. But, with the fire extinguished, fire units started pulling away from the scene before 4 p.m.

There were no immediate reports of injuries from the fire and the only damage visible from outside the building was a section of soot-stained brickwork where the older building adjoins the new construction area.

Update 4:50 a.m.:Fire investigators say the blaze was touched off by sparks from welding equipment used in the construction project.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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