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Wall Collapses At Morton Salt Building, Cars At Dealership Next Door Buried In Salt

(CBS) -- It's turning out to be a "December to Remember" for a Near North Side auto dealership -- but not because of post-holiday sales.

Tons of salt buried cars parked outside the McGrath Acura dealership Tuesday when portions of the south wall of the adjacent Morton Salt storage facility collapsed.

No one was hurt and no extrications were necessary because of the spill, at 1301 N. Elston Av.

The Chicago Fire Department, Chicago Dept. of Buildings and Morton Salt all said it appears that salt was merely piled too high in the storage building, causing the wall to give way.

"It appears to be a case of too much salt and too little wall," said Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford said.

First responders quickly determined that all employees of the Morton facility and of the adjacent McGrath Acura dealership were accounted for and unhurt, and that no one else was buried in the salt.


A manager for McGrath said the salt damaged 11 cars, including one that the agency had just taken in trade Monday.

"I just couldn't imagine this happening to us on this particular day going into the end of the year," said McGrath Acura General Manager Noble Jones. "New Year's is a busy time for us as you can see and we're worried about selling cars and not saving cars and it seems like right now we've got to dig some cars out from the salt and make sure that the customers are happy with our service work and they find out that they might have to replace their cars they currently have."

Building inspectors blocked off the immediate area where the wall gave way to guard against injury if additional salt or bricks fall. The department said, in a statement, that Morton employees are working with a structural engineer to see that the remaining structure is safe and supported.

City inspectors completed a sign inspection on March 5 and a refrigeration inspection in November 2012. The building department said, in a statement, that the building had an outstanding violation for failure to maintain roof in sound condition and repair related to the western portion of the roof.

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