Chicago, Ill. – City of Chicago inspection records examined by NBC 5 Investigates and Telemundo Chicago Investiga indicate that the residential building that partially collapsed Tuesday after an explosion “failed” its last 12 consecutive Department of Buildings inspections, dating back to 2010, although the cases resulting from those inspections were later dismissed.
Tuesday little after 9 a.m., the upper level of the building at 5601 W. West End Ave. partially collapsed. Unconfirmed is the cause of the explosion that supposedly resulted to the collapse.
According to fire officials, at least eight persons were hospitalized, with three reported to be in critical condition and five in stable condition.
More than 130 emergency personnel were dispatched to the location, and officials from the fire department stated that they did not believe any other people were trapped.
Urban Alternatives manages the property on behalf of West End LLC.
The building’s owner, Roman Viere, stated in a statement, “This is a sad occurrence and we are heartbroken for all of our residents.” “The health, well-being, and safety of our residents are our top priority. We are doing everything possible to collaborate with emergency services and are prepared to assist our citizens in any way possible.”
Two and a half years ago, in February 2020, the building was cited for six violations, including: washed-out mortar on the building’s south and west sides; failure to properly vent a gas dryer; cracked walkways; bubbling paint in the third-floor interior stairwell; debris in the rear courtyard; and a note that the department was not permitted entry to the majority of apartments.
As a result of these infractions, the Department of Buildings filed an Administrative Hearings case, which was eventually dismissed.
Officials from the municipality stated that a subsequent examination indicated that all six breaches had been rectified.
According to the city’s website, this was not the first time the building has been cited for several of these offences.
NBC 5 Investigates discovered that the Department of Buildings cited the building in 2017 for mortar erosion on the west wall and rubbish overflow.
NBC 5 Investigates discovered that the city was unable to inspect a large portion of the building six times in the past twelve years: on February 4, 2020, April 5, 2018, May 1, 2017, September 28, 2016, August 18, 2014, and April 30, 2013.
In total, the building has “failed” twelve consecutive DOB inspections dating back to 2010. However, records indicate – and Viere verifies – that all administrative matters resulting from these citations were eventually dismissed.
Despite these recurrent infractions, the building owners obtained their most recent permit in 2008, fourteen years ago, when they claimed they needed to repair masonry and plaster due to a similar infraction.
The Department of Buildings reported that it has not received any recent inspection requests or servicing requests from the location and that “none of the infractions would have contributed to an explosion or structural failure at the building.”
The Department of Buildings (DOB) takes matters of public safety and quality of life extremely seriously “The agency stated in a statement. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the individuals and families impacted by the explosion and partial building collapse that occurred today at 160-164 N. Central Avenue/5601-5601 W. West End Avenue. DOB will collaborate with City departments as they investigate this event.”
The cause of Tuesday’s explosion was not immediately revealed, but an investigation was ongoing, according to fire officials. Peoples Gas and ComEd both said they were responding to the scene, but it was unclear whether or not gas was involved.
The building near the epicenter of the explosion had been inspected by Viere’s office just one week before.
“We routinely inspect all of our flats, and on Tuesday of last week, we inspected this particular building,” he told NBC 5. “Except for one or two flats where we are prohibited from entering due to the presence of occupants, all smoke detectors were certified to be operational. In the flats we did visit, however, we either replaced batteries or faulty devices.”
A building collapsed Tuesday morning on Chicago’s West Side after an explosion occurred nearby, and fire officials requested the assistance of a mass casualty ambulance-bus after several injuries were confirmed and a search continued for persons who may still be inside the building.
The explosion displaced an undetermined number of residents, and neighbouring buildings were evacuated.
“A loud explosion, doors opening, and glass smashing – it was insane, dude,” Ronald Martin, a longtime resident of the building, told NBC 5. “As I was preparing for work and cooking breakfast on a typical morning, the power suddenly shut off.”
Viere told NBC 5 that he was attempting to locate hotels, churches, and vacant residences for displaced individuals.
“We have been providing housing to the community for over thirty years. We take this matter extremely seriously “Viere told NBC 5. “Because these are people’s homes, we examine units twice a year and maintain our properties. They deserve decent, safe, and clean housing. It is upsetting for all those concerned. I cannot conceive that anyone would wish for this to occur. We are attempting to assist the affected. I believe we operate safe, well-kept properties, and we take this responsibility very seriously.”
Mayor of Chicago Lori Lightfoot tweeted that her sympathies were with the injured and the responding firemen.
“Those injured and displaced by the building collapse in the Austin area are in my thoughts. We must also congratulate the courageous Chicago Fire Department personnel who are striving to alleviate the dangerous situation “She wrote the text.