Warehouse where Chicago firefighter died to be torn down

A year ago, firefighter Daniel Capuano, 43, fell down an open elevator shaft during a warehouse fire

By Patrick M. O'Connell
Chicago Tribune

CHICAGO — A year to the day after Chicago firefighter Daniel Capuano died, the warehouse where he suffered a fatal fall during a smoky fire is being demolished.

The razing of the property at 9213 S. Baltimore Ave. began Wednesday with the deconstruction of the building's roof, Chicago Department of Buildings spokeswoman Mimi Simon said. The move comes following a year of hearings regarding the Southeast Side property, including several held in the weeks after Capuano's death.

The city moved to have the warehouse knocked down because of an array of code and building violations, including an open elevator shaft where Capuano, 43, fell during the Dec. 14, 2015, fire. The blaze was small but smoky, making it difficult for firefighters to see inside the building, investigators said.

Demolition of the brick warehouse was delayed, Simon said, because of "design and structural challenges" related to the building's location near railroad tracks and because it shares a wall with another building. Railroad tracks used by Metra Electric trains are located immediately to the east. The 93rd Street station is next door.

"This was a concerted effort on behalf of the city and contractors to start demolition as soon as possible," Simon said.

The Chicago Fire Department held a memorial bell-ringing ceremony Wednesday morning at Capuano's firehouse, Engine Co. 72 on South Chicago Avenue, deputy district Chief Jeff Lyle said. Capuano was a part of Tower Ladder 34. The memorial was held during morning roll call. Bernard Farmer, a battalion chief who died Dec. 14, 1954, in a building collapse at 224 W. Illinois St. also was honored.

After the firehouse ceremony, several firefighters visited the warehouse site where Capuano died, Lyle said.

A demolition permit for the property was issued Monday. A demolition permit for the adjacent warehouse at 9227 S. Baltimore Ave., also deemed a hazard, was issued Dec. 7.

Construction work at the site where Capuano died was unauthorized and outside the scope of building permits, according to the city's building department, which found the warehouse unsafe.

Capuano's wife filed a wrongful death suit against the company that owned the building, Anilroshi, claiming the company was negligent for having construction work done in violation of city regulations.

The family's attorney said the next hearing in the civil case is scheduled for January.

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