Posts Tagged fatal high rise fire in Chicago

4-11 Alarm High-Rise fire in Chicago, 1-25-23 (more)

From Captured News on YouTube:

The Chicago Fire Department was called to the scene of a devastating high-rise fire in the Kenwood neighborhood on the city’s South Side that has left one resident dead and multiple others injured. Crews were called to the building, located at 4850 S Lake Park Ave, at approximately 10:00 am on Wednesday morning, after reports of smoke and flames were seen coming from the 15th floor. Upon arrival, firefighters found the fire was starting to spread to the 16th floor, with thick smoke and intense heat making it difficult to contain the blaze. Despite the challenges, crews were able to evacuate the building, and several residents were transported to local hospitals for treatment of smoke inhalation and other injuries. At least 10 ambulances responded to the scene. The cause of the fire is currently under investigation, but officials say it appears to have started in one of the 15th floor units. The extent of the damage is still being assessed, but it is clear that most of the units will be uninhabitable for some time.The power for the elevators was lost, forcing firefighters to use the stairwells to evacuate the building, including elderly residents who may have had difficulty getting out on their own. Despite the challenges, crews were able to evacuate the building, and several residents were transported to local hospitals for treatment of smoke inhalation and other injuries. The Red Cross is currently assisting displaced residents with temporary housing and other needs.

thanks Keith

Excerpts from

A fire broke out in the 15th floor of the 25-story Harper Square Co-Op building in the 4800-block of South Lake Park Avenue just after 10 a.m. Wednesday. Wind caused the fire to spread very quickly, going vertically from floor to floor all the way up to the 24th floor.

It took hundreds of firefighters to knock out the flames, and the elevators were out, so all of the equipment had to be lifted up manually.

One woman found dead on the 15th floor. Eight other residents were injured. A firefighter was also injured. Nearly half of the units in the building are now considered uninhabitable.

The Chicago Fire Department said smoking materials ignited combustibles in a bedroom and ruled the fire an accident. A smoke detector was in the residence but was not working, CFD said.

The identity of the woman killed has not yet been released, but those who knew her said she was a retired teacher in her 80s.

Apparently the building has failed its seven last inspections by the Department of Buildings (DOB), including one on Dec. 1, 2022, for not testing the fire alarm and evacuation system.

After being in violation for more than a year, 4850 South Lake Park Thursday submitted certification by outside contractor Fox Valley Fire & Safety. Paper work obtained shows fire alarms passed inspection. But the records submitted Thursday were for testing done at the end of 2021, more than a year ago. So at the time of the fire, the high rise was still not in fire compliance,

DOB also said during an inspection on Nov. 7, 2022, violations for the interior door tags, exterior masonry and for failing to file the required high-rise exterior wall report were noted. The DOB also referred the violations to the Department of Law, which filed an enforcement action in the Circuit Court of Cook County. The court case is scheduled to be hears on Feb. 2.

The apartment building, which was built in 1970, has 298 apartments in it, with about 267 units occupied, and individual units in this building do not have sprinklers.

After the deadly 2003 fire at the Cook County Administration Building, the city passed an ordinance requiring all residential high rises to pass what’s called a “life safety evaluation.” The ordinance does not require sprinklers as long as buildings put in passive measures, such as self-closing doors to contain a fire.

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City vs State over fatal high-rise fire

NBC Chicago has an article which puts the state and the city at odds over sprinklers and other upgrades in the Lake Shore Drive high-rise where a woman dies in a recent fire.

As the state fire marshal cites the owners of a Lake Shore Drive high rise for multiple violations following last week’s fatal fire, a clash is shaping up between the State of Illinois and Chicago over whose fire laws should have applied.

An exploration of the laws shows that confusion reigns, and that in many cases, not everyone agrees on what those laws require.

Illinois Fire Marshall Larry Matkaitis cited the building’s owners, Planned Property Management, for more than a dozen violations, including lack of a sprinkler system, and lack of automatic recall systems on the building’s elevators.

The victim, Shantel McCoy, died when the elevator on which she was riding, opened on the fire floor, hitting her with a blast estimated at 1500 degrees. An automated return system would have locked that elevator down on the building’s first floor when smoke alarms activated, preventing McCoy from ever going upstairs.

Neither sprinklers nor automated return systems are currently required for pre-1975 residential high-rises in Chicago, which claims home rule authority in following its own fire codes, rather than adhering to the more stringent Illinois fire laws. The state contends their law should apply.

The complete article can be found HERE which includes references back to the Cook County Building fire in 2003 and the findings by james Lee Witt & Associates in their report commissioned by the State of Illinois.

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