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Kenwood building where deadly fire broke out has history of violations, has been on fire before

Building where deadly fire broke out had history of violations, past fire
Building where deadly fire broke out had history of violations, past fire 02:32

CHICAGO (CBS) -- The high-rise at 4850 S. Lake Park Ave. where a fire broke out and left one person dead Wednesday has a history of failed inspections, code violations, and another fire back in 2021.

As CBS 2's Tara Molina reported, there are recent city violations related to fire code at the Harper Square Cooperative.

Just last month, the building failed a city inspection, in which managers were ordered to test the fire alarm and evacuation system. It was the seventh failed inspection.

The last time the building passed an inspection was more than two years ago, in September 2020.

Our cameras were also on the scene when a fire also broke out at the building on Feb. 17, 2021. That fire broke out on the second floor.

Two women, ages 64 and 84, were taken to the hospital with smoke inhalation from the 2021 fire. A Chicago firefighter was also injured.

CBS 2's Molina turned to the building's management company with questions Wednesday. The management company would not address the questions.

But it still was not clear Wednesday afternoon if the building was up to fire code, and if the detectors in units and hallways here were working when the deadly fire broke out Wednesday. The fire Wednesday also left nine people injured, and spread vertically from the 15th floor to the 24th.

"Smoke detectors in individual units are battery operated," Chicago Fire Commissioner Annette Nance-Holt explained Wednesday. "Smoke detectors in hallways are hard wired."

But did they go off?

"I don't have that information right now," Nance-Holt said.

Kenwood building where deadly fire broke out has history of violations 02:08

Meanwhile, Chicago Department of Buildings spokesman Michael Puccinelli said the department last inspected the building on Nov. 7, 2022, and wrote up violations for the interior trash door tags and the exterior masonry, and for failing to file the required high-rise exterior wall report. 

Other fire-related violations at the building were also listed throughout the year last year – including a failure to repair or replace a defective fire pump on Nov. 2, and a frozen Fire Department Siamese connection pipe at the building on Feb. 18.

The DOB was at the scene of the fire Wednesday and is working with the Fire Department to investigate and assess the damage.  

Safety standards for high-rise buildings were made significantly stricter after an infamous fire on Oct. 17, 2003, at what was then known as the Cook County Administration Building, at 69 W. Washington St. downtown.

Six people were killed in that fire when they found themselves trapped in a smoky when the doors locked behind them.

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