Excerpts from DNAinfo.com:

As firefighters fought a fire early Monday morning at a Rogers Park apartment complex, public records show a battle with the building’s owners had been brewing behind the scenes for years. The building at 1700-08 W. Estes Ave. has been inspected nine times over the past 10 years by the city and was cited for 39 violations during those visits. That includes three times since 2012 where investigators couldn’t gain entry to the building in order to make sure smoke detectors worked properly.

Chicago Fire Department Commissioner Jose Santiago said one firefighter Monday injured his shoulder after a set of stairs collapsed while crews were making their way to the third floor of the building.

In January 2010, the building was cited for failure to maintain interior stairway system in safe condition and sound repair because pickets were missing from the front staircase handrails.

Six other firefighters were injured in mostly ice-related incidents, and later Streets and Sanitation workers thickly salted the intersection of Paulina and Estes.

The building is registered to Cameel Halim, the agent for CH Ventures, LLC and Wilmette Real Estate & Management, LLC. Court records show Halim and his various real estate corporations have been sued dozens of times in Cook County civil and chancery courts in the past 24 years, including by the city of Chicago for building and environmental violations.

In November 2011, the courts ruled in favor of Centerpoint Energy Services, Inc., which was seeking $1.7 million from natural gas supplied to Hamil’s rental properties. In the suit, the energy provider alleged Hamil moved funds from Wilmette Real Estate & Management’s account to he and his wife’s personal account in order to avoid paying the judgment. The energy provider argued many of Hamil’s rental property corporations were shell corporations.

Jenira Torres, who lives along the 7106-12 N. Paulina St. side of the L-shaped property, said she was awoken by her distressed cat rather than her smoke alarm. Throughout the ordeal, she said neither the alarm in her apartment nor in her hallway or stairwell sounded. When she looked out her window, a ladder was standing directly outside with a firefighter headed up to the third floor above her.

Almost as soon as she opened her door, Torres said a firefighter appeared who told her to grab her things because the building was being evacuated. Torres said she never noticed any fire extinguishers in the building.

According to Chicago municipal code, “Fire extinguishers shall not be required in multiple dwellings not exceeding three stories in height and having a floor area not exceeding 3,000 square feet.”

Other violations cited by the city included several instances of rotting decks, window frames and doors, peeling paint, non-secured porches, water-damaged balconies, stagnant sewage in the basement, live rats, and open plaster in the basement ceiling.