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.