LITTLE VILLAGE — The owner of a building where 10 kids died in a fire during a sleepover this week was hit with dozens of building code violations by the city in a post-fire investigation.
The city Department of Building’s Special Task Force completed an investigation on Tuesday and found 38 building violations in the front building at 2224 S. Sacramento Ave., the site of Sunday’s deadly blaze, according to city officials. The agency also issued six code violations for the rear building where the fire broke out.
Among the violations found were missing smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, obstruction of exit ways, rodent infestation to the front building as well as a gas container stored in the basement exceeding a legal limit, according to city records.
“The Department of Buildings takes emergency complaints and public safety very seriously,” said Gregg Cunningham, a spokesman for the city’s Department of Buildings.
“This week our inspectors had full access to the building and were able to conduct a thorough inspection of both buildings. These inspections revealed multiple violations, many of which were identified as dangerous and hazardous,” Cunningham said.
Building owner Merced Gutierrez could not be reached for comment. Attorney Raul Serrato did not immediately return phone calls for comment.
The tragedy unfolded overnight Sunday. Fire crews arrived at the fire in the 2200 block of South Sacramento at about 4 a.m. Sunday. Eight children died in the fire, and two were transported to a local hospital where they died days later.
The fire began in the rear of the building and spread to the front. Fire officials originally said no smoke detectors were found in the building, but on Wednesday the department said it had found a smoke detector at the scene — but it didn’t function because it didn’t have a working battery.
Fire officials said this as the deadliest house fire in more than 40 years.
The children have been identified as three-month-old Amayah Almaraz, three-year old Alanni Ayala, five-year old Gialanni Ayala, five-year-old Ariel Garcia, 10-year-old Giovanni Ayala, 11-year-old Xavier Contreras, 13-year-old Nathan Contreras, 14-year-old Adrian Hernandez, 14-year-old Cesar Contreras, and 16-year-old Victor Mendoza.
The city’s Department of Buildings previously inspected the building on June 8, following a complaint from a tenant, the agency said.
During the inspection, the building was cited for two electrical violations, one for grounding in the front of the building and one for an illegal electrical cord going from the front building to the coach house.
According to city officials, the violations from the first inspection warranted Circuit Court enforcement, but the infractions were not sufficient to force tenants to vacate the building at the time.
“Other contributing factors would have had to have been present to warrant vacating the building. Further, past enforcement actions show that the owners have pulled permits and have been cooperative in addressing previous violations,” a city source said.
Inspectors were given partial access to the building or no entry at all, according to a city source.
The Chicago Fire Department said the cause of the blaze is still under investigation and had no further updates Friday morning.
A circuit court date for the new building violations has been set for Sept. 6.