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River North, Gold Coast, Near North Side

Gold Coast Fire Where Firefighter Died Was Accidental, Officials Say

The blaze started when combustible items were left near a heat source, officials said.

Chicago Fire fighters battle a 3-11 fire at 1212 N. Lake Shore Drive where one firefighter was listed as "very critical" and another was injured in Gold Coast on Apr. 5, 2023.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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GOLD COAST — A Gold Coast fire that left a firefighter dead was deemed accidental by the Fire Department.

The fire was started from “combustibles being too close to a heat-generating appliance,” according to the Fire Department.

About 7 a.m. Wednesday, officials went to the fire in a high-rise at 1212 N. Lake Shore Drive, Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford said. Lt. Jan Tchoryk collapsed while heading up the building’s stairs to fight the blaze, and he was pronounced dead at a local hospital, officials said.

The fire was put out later that morning. Three other firefighters were taken hospitalized in fair to serious condition during the blaze, fire Commissioner Annette Nance-Holt said last week.

A city ordinance requires high-rise residences built after 1975 to have indoor sprinklers. Because the building predates that, there were no sprinklers in the living units. Officials said only the building’s garage had sprinklers.

The building is mandated to have a city-approved life safety plan in lieu of the sprinkler requirement. The building submitted a plan and was in compliance during an inspection in 2014, according to the Department of Buildings.

The building was cited for 11 fire code violations last year, according to the city. They ranged from not repairing and maintaining the building’s standpipe system and submitting annual inspections for the fire pump and smokeproof towers.

The most recent fire code violations for the building were issued this fall and were related to Fire Department water connections being blocked by landscaping.

Tchoryk was the second firefighter to be killed in separate blazes in two days.

Tchoryk, 55, joined the Fire Department in 1997, Nance-Holt said. His son was recently sworn in as a Chicago police officer, and Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she had met him at his graduation.

Prior to joining the Fire Department, Tchoryk was in the Navy and served in Operation Desert Storm, Nance-Holt said. He was an “avid outdoorsman” who biked, rode motorcycles and took pride in his big family, she said.

Ald. Nick Sposato (38th), a former fireman, was sad to hear the news of Tchoryk’s death, especially on the heels of another firefighter dying. He and Tchoryk worked in the same battalion when they started on the job about 25 years ago, he said.

After Sposato left the department and entered politics, he saw Tchoryk, a Northwest Side resident, at union meetings. He was “a good guy,” Sposato said.

Veteran firefighter Jermaine Pelt was killed Tuesday while working the hose line at a fire in West Pullman.

“This has been a tragic week for us, unprecedented,” Nance-Holt said last week. “I can’t tell you how this impacts us, losing two members in two days. As I said yesterday, this job is dangerous, and you never know if you’re coming home … .

“Please keep his family in your prayers, as well as the entire Chicago Fire Department.”

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