Collapsed Building Had a Number of Code Violations

Roof was rotten, leaking in some areas, according to 2007 report

By Phil Rogers and BJ Lutz
|  Wednesday, Dec 22, 2010  |  Updated 10:15 PM CDT
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There are more than a dozen code violations on the books for the South Side property where two Chicago firefighters died Wednesday, including several that may have direct bearing on the wall and roof collapse that trapped them and two others.

The property, at 1738-1744 E. 75th St., was cited more than three years ago for a number of violations, including:

  • failing to maintain the parapet wall in good repair and free from cracks and defects...
  • failing to maintain the lintel in good repair and free from cracks and defects...
  • failing to maintain roof in sound condition and repair, watertight and free from defects...

In an Aug. 20, 2007 report, it was noted that holes were present in the roof and that it was leaking and rotten in some areas.  The report concluded the owners, Chuck Dai and Richard Dai, had failed to maintain the structure in a safe and stable condition.  

Among other fixes, the building's owners were ordered to restore the roof loads to their original use by removing additional weights and structures attached to the trusses.  

City officials weren't able to verify Wednesday evening whether the property was still in violation following a Nov. 1, 2010 repair deadline.

Chuck Dai had been in court at least seven times in reference to the building and had indicated to the city that he expected it to go into foreclosure.  A city official said Dai told them that he was attempting to reach an agreement by which he could deed the property back to his mortgage provider.

There was no comment from Chuck Dai on Wednesday evening, but a spokesman said he was anxious to cooperate with the investigation and expressed regret over what happened.

"We're very, very surprised and you don't want that to happen to anyone, and so they just need to figure out what happened here," said Tommy Lee.

Firefighters Corey Ankum and Edward Stringer were killed when the roof and a wall collapsed on them and two other firefighters.  The site of a former dry cleaning business, the building had been vacant for the last five years and had become a favorite spot for homeless people and vagrants seeking shelter from the winter weather. 

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