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Owners of the building where 2 Chicago firefighters died were sued over roof violations

Our city mourned when two Chicago firefighters were killed on Wednesday when the roof of an abandoned Chicago building collapsed on them. Documents uncovered now show that the deadly fire in the abandoned building was a wrongful death accident waiting to happen. Chicago city building inspectors had filed a lawsuit against the owners of the building three years ago after finding multiple violations, including rotting trusses and holes in the roof. Inspectors discovered fourteen building code violations, deeming the structure unsafe and unstable.

Now, the findings sure to get the most attention now are the faulty roof that collapsed during the fire, causing two firefighter deaths early this week. Count seven of the Chicago lawsuit says that there were holes in the roof, which was rotting and leaky. Count 9 demands the building owners restore the roof’s load-bearing capacity after inspectors found that the trusses in the roof and wooden support beams were rotted and vented. Last year, the building owners entered into a consent decree saying that they would either repair the violations or sell the property by November 1, 2010, but the building department said they did neither.

Chicago firefighters approach a fire like the one burning Wednesday morning very cautiously. The abandoned building was built with what is called a bow truss roof, which are prone to collapse during fire. They are instructed not to enter a burning bow truss roof building with an exception. If firefighters believe someone could be inside the building, they conduct a search and rescue operation. And, people in the neighborhood had told firefighters that homeless sometimes used the abandoned building for shelter.

All of Chicago will be keeping the firefighters in our thoughts as more information comes available about the deadly fire. To read more about the deadly Chicago fire, visit Fox Chicago.