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Building that collapsed in Chicago blast has ‘failed’ past 12 inspections, records show – NBC Chicago

City of Chicago inspection records reviewed by NBC 5 Investigates and Telemundo Chicago Investiga show the residential building that partially collapsed Tuesday after an explosion “failed” its last 12 consecutive Buildings Department inspections, dating back to 2010, although cases resulting from all of these inspections were later dismissed.

The top floor of the building, located at 5601 W. West End Ave., partially collapsed just after 9 a.m. Tuesday. The cause of the explosion that apparently led to the collapse has not been confirmed.

At least eight people have been hospitalized, three of whom are in critical condition and five in stable condition, according to firefighters.

More than 130 emergency personnel responded to the scene and a final search was conducted as firefighters said they did not believe there were any other trapped victims.

The building is owned by West End LLC and managed by Urban Alternatives.

“This is a devastating event and we are heartbroken for all of our residents,” building owner Roman Viere said in a statement. “Our first concern is the health, well-being and safety of our residents. We are doing everything we can to cooperate with the emergency services, and we are prepared to do whatever we can to support our residents.”

City of Chicago online inspection records showed the most recent published inspection report was from February 2020 – two and a half years ago – when the building was cited for six infractions, including: mortar faded on south of building and west sides; failure to properly vent a gas clothes dryer; cracked driveways; bubbling paint on the interior stairway to the third floor; debris in the back yard and a note that the department was not allowed to enter most apartments, meaning they could not inspect much of the building.

The Department of Buildings filed an Administrative Hearing case as a result of these violations, but that case was later dismissed. City officials confirmed that a follow-up inspection found all six violations had been corrected.

It was not the first time the building had been cited for some of these violations, according to the city’s website. NBC 5 Investigates found that in 2017, the Department of Buildings cited the building for washed-out mortar on the west wall, as well as overflowing trash.

NBC 5 Investigates found the city was unable to gain access to inspect much of the building six times over 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, city records show the building “failed” its last 12 consecutive DOB inspections, dating back to 2010. But records show — and Viere confirms — that administrative cases resulting from those citations have all been subsequently rejected.

Despite these repeated violations, city records show the building’s owners last obtained a permit in 2008 – 14 years ago – when the owners said they needed to fix brickwork and plaster. of another almost identical violation at the time.

The Department of Buildings noted that it had not, however, received any recent inspection requests or service calls from the location, and “none of the violations would have contributed to an explosion or structural failure of the building.

“The Department of Buildings (DOB) takes issues of public safety and quality of life very seriously,” the department said in a statement. -164 N. Central Avenue/5601-5613 W. West End Avenue. DOB will cooperate with our city agencies as they work to complete their investigation of this incident.

Firefighters said the cause of Tuesday’s explosion was not immediately known but an investigation was underway. Peoples Gas and ComEd confirmed the two companies were responding to the scene, but it was unclear whether gas was involved.

Viere said his office had inspected the building at the center of the explosion a week prior.

“We regularly inspect all of our apartments and last week on Tuesday we inspected this particular building,” he told NBC 5. “All smoke detectors have confirmed to be working except for one. to two units we are not allowed to enter because residents. But in the apartments we have been in, we have either changed the batteries or replaced the faulty units.”

A building collapsed Tuesday morning in Chicago’s West End after a nearby explosion, and firefighters called for assistance from a mass ambulance bus after multiple injuries were confirmed and a search continued for people who were may still be inside the building.

An unknown number of residents were displaced by the explosion and adjacent buildings were evacuated.

“A big bang, doors opening, windows shattering – it was crazy, man,” Ronald Martin, a resident who’s lived in the building for several years, told NBC 5. “I was preparing breakfast, just a usual morning, myself getting ready to work and it stopped automatically.”

Viere told NBC 5 he was working to find alternative housing for displaced residents, including a hotel, church and vacant apartments.

“We’ve been providing housing in the community for over 30 years. We take these things very seriously,” Viere told NBC 5. “That’s why we inspect the units twice a year, we maintain our apartments — that’s are the homes of these people. They deserve to have good, safe, clean accommodation. This is devastating for everyone involved. I can’t imagine anyone would want something like this to happen. We’re trying to “Helping those affected. I think we run good safe properties and we try to take that very seriously in a responsible way.”

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot tweeted that her thoughts were with the injured and the firefighters working at the scene.

“My thoughts are with those injured and displaced in the building collapse in the Austin neighborhood. We must also thank the brave men and women of the Chicago Fire Department who are working to reduce the dangerous conditions,” she wrote.

NBC Chicago

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