A major fire at the North Shore Towing yard on Oakton Street sent black smoke pouring over Evanston this afternoon.

The fire broke out about 2:30 p.m. and, despite problems getting sufficient water on the blaze, the black smoke had shifted to a light grey color by about 3:30.

Fire officials asked the city’s utility’s department to raise water pressure in the southwest area of the city to help increase the supply available to fight the fire.

Several power lines were knocked down by the flames, but a ComEd crew managed to shut off power to the lines.

Customers in the Home Depot parking lot watch the fire.

The fire forced the closure of the nearby Home Depot store as a precaution, but firefighters managed to contain the blaze to the tow yard.

Update 4:10 p.m.: City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz said several cars were on fire in the tow yard at 2527 Oakton St. and that fire crews were expected to be on the scene for some time yet, although they had brought the fire under control by shortly after 4 p.m. Bobkiewicz said no structures have been damaged by the fire.

Power lines drooping as firefighters pour water on the blaze.

The cause of the fire has not yet been determined.

Power has been shut off to a few buildings in the immediate area of the fire. ComEd says they hope to have the power restored by about 9 p.m.

Update 4:55 p.m.: Fire crews were still working to extinguish hot spots at the fire scene about two-and-a-half hours after the fire was first reported.

Update 6:25 p.m.: Fire crews from neighboring communities were allowed to return to their stations starting about 5:20 p.m., but City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz says firefighters are continuing to find small fires in the large piles of crushed automobiles.

Bobkiewicz says no workers were in the area when the fire started and that a passerby was the first to call 911 to report the blaze.

ComEd is now reporting power outages to 726 Skokie customers and 54 Evanston customers because of power lines downed by the blaze.

Update 6:50 p.m.: Oakton Street remains blocked at the fire scene at this hour and buses are being rerouted onto Howard Street between Dodge Avenue and McCormick Boulevard.

Update 7:40 p.m.: Evanston fire units have just about wrapped up operations at the tow yard fire scene. City Manager Bobkiewicz says the last units are expected to be leaving the scene shortly.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Thanks for posting this

    Thanks for posting this article – drove down McCormick around 5:00 after smoke had cleared and wondered what had happened – thanks for the fast coverage!

  2. Evanston Fire August 31

    Will North Shore Towing be fined for having a big pile of tires?  I know these are a fire hazard and where mosquitoes lay eggs (in water inside of tires).  With West Nile Virus in the area care must be taken to decrease mosquitoe populations.


    1. Towyard was an Environmental Disaster

      I hope so. That towyard has been an environmental disaster for too long. 

  3. Black Smoke

    Looks like a lot of rubber burning. This was impressive but fall short of the Hines Lumber yard on Church St. and the Rustoleum Fire on Oakton. I believe the lumber yard fire was about 45 year ago and the Rustoleum fire was about 35 years ago.

    I hope they find the cause.

    1. More fires

      To Skipw

      Ah, another oldtimer; Remember the Holiday Lincoln Mercury fire (South Blvd and Chicago)? Probably in the mid to late 70s.

      1. Holiday Lincoln Mercury Fire


        Great Memory

        Feb. 6, 1968: Firefighters battle a blaze at Holiday Lincoln Mercury dealership at 535 Chicago Avenue. — Kale Budrys McLain, Chicago Tribune

      2. Humphrey Chevrolet

        Seems that Humphrey Chevy was located at 635 Chicago Ave and also burned down in 74. I remember the Holiday fire, but not the Humphrey fire.

  4. Any truth?

    Any truth in the rumor that due to the nature of

    fire rubber grease oil etc.. That fire departments now 

    have to buy new turnout gear? Is that something 

    northshore will foot the bill for or the taxpayers?

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