City Moves to Demolish Building After Firefighter Dies in Fall

Firefighter Daniel Capuano, a married father of three, plunged to his death early Monday when he stepped into the open elevator shaft while searching the darkened, smoky building

Building inspectors on Tuesday dropped multiple code violations on the owner of a South Side building where a Chicago firefighter fell to his death Monday, and city attorneys moved to have the building torn down.

City officials said Anilroshi LLC contractors were in the midst of major renovations to the two-story warehouse at 9213 S. Baltimore and nearly all of them — including removing an elevator — were undertaken without proper permits or inspections.

Firefighter Daniel Capuano, a married father of three, plunged to his death early Monday when he stepped into the open elevator shaft while searching the darkened, smoky building.

Photographs taken by city inspectors Monday show an open shaft with police crime scene draped beside it.

“The building . . . poses an immediate and ongoing threat of irreparable harm to the public health, welfare and safety, and an immediate and continuous threat to the community, neighbors and the public at large,” the city’s motion for emergency demolition of the warehouse said.

A hearing on the motion is set for Thursday in Cook County Circuit Court, and the Building Department has turned over its reports to State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez, spokeswoman Mimi Simon said Tuesday.

Pat Cummings, attorney for Anilroshi owner Jatin Patel, declined to discuss specifics of the case.

“We are cooperating absolutely with the investigation,” Cummings said. “Mr. Patel is just devastated by the tragedy for the Capuano family and he has their family in his prayers.”

Capuano’s funeral is set for 10 a.m. Friday at St. Rita High School, 7220 S. Western. Burial will be at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, 6001 111th St., in Alsip.

Capuano, a 15-year CFD veteran who also worked part-time for the Evergreen Park Fire Department, was married and the father of three children.

City records indicate permits were issued in September for relatively minor construction at the warehouse, such as installing lights, replacing drywall and tile flooring. The permit applicant, contractor Fred Baker, had been identified in other media as the building owner.

It is not clear who was doing the extensive renovation work identified by city inspectors after the fire, work that including removing an elevator, replacing steel structural beams, and cutting large holes in the floors and roof. Cook County records indicate Patel bought the building in November 2014.

Applying for a permit to remove the elevator would have triggered an inspection to make sure the lift had been “safely and properly decommissioned,” Simon said in a statement. Fire department officials have said there were no barricades surrounding the elevator shaft openings.

Criminal charges are not unusual in cases where code violations lead to injuries. The collapse of the roof of a former laundromat during a 2010 fire left firefighters Corey Ankum and Edward Stringer dead and injured more than a dozen others. It landed building owner Chuck Dai in jail for six months. Dai pleaded guilty to a contempt of court charge tied to an agreement with the city to repair the building that predated the fire.

“If there was work that was going on [in the warehouse] that was supposed to be permitted and wasn’t, they’re going to look at who was responsible for that,” said Gene Murphy, Dai’s attorney. “When people purposefully avoid rules and put people at harm, there can be criminal charges.”

Alvarez spokeswoman Sally Daly said Tuesday that the case is under investigation. The cause of the fire has not been determined, Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford said.

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