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The following news article was found on Chicagobreakingnews.com, and it’s very relevant for all of you business owners who have been putting off getting a roof inspection for your commercial roofing system.
“After his South Shore laundry failed about six years ago, Chuck Dai said he gave up on the broken-down building on East 75th Street that he and a relative had been struggling to hold on to.
Taxes went unpaid and the building’s problems stacked up, among them a wooden truss roof that city inspectors found defective in 2007 and ordered Dai to repair.
Today, the building’s roof collapsed during a fire, killing two Chicago firefighters and injuring 17 others, officials said.
Dai said he saw a report of the fire on TV and was devastated when he realized it was his building.
“I’m at a loss for words about the whole situation,” said Dai, 61, during a brief telephone interview. “I feel bad about the firemen getting hurt.”
In 2007, as Dai and co-owner Richard Dai struggled to make payments on a $60,000 loan on the building, the city cited them for 14 separate building code violations, records show.
The roof held “additional weights” that were improperly attached to the triangular wooden trusses that made up its underbelly, according to a 2007 court complaint. Violations also included cracked walls, broken and loose windows, a crumbling chimney, and a stagnant pool of sewage in the basement.
Dai, who also faced foreclosure in 2007, entered into a compliance agreement with the city several months later, promising to pay $1,000 in fines and keep the building in shape, according to records.
City officials said there is no record that Dai ever paid the fine. It was not known if the issues cited in 2007 had any role in Wednesday’s disaster.
Dai staved off foreclosure but said he has struggled financially since the economy dipped and another one of his laundry businesses began to suffer. He acknowledged that he has had a hard time maintaining the 75th Street building.
City officials and neighbors said the building had long been a nuisance, attracting homeless people who took refuge in the vacant, warehouse-like structure.
Squatters have repeatedly broken into the building, according to the owner of a neighboring carwash, who said he has called police at least a dozen times in recent years to report trespassers.
Jorico Smart said he called police about a month ago after seeing a man tampering with the building’s electrical wiring.
Dai said maintaining the building has been “a tiresome battle.” Though the property had been boarded up several times, “somehow they managed to break in,” he said. “I don’t know how to deal with that.”
When firefighters arrived at the scene Wednesday morning, the front of the building was boarded up, but the back was open, Fire Department Cmdr. Robert Hoff said.
Dai said that when the laundry he operated in the building went under, he stopped paying property taxes. He said he assumed, mistakenly, that his tax delinquency meant the city had taken over the property.
Dai has faced federal tax problems as well. The Internal Revenue Service in 2000 issued a lien against the 75th Street property for $10,865 that Dai owed in federal income taxes, and again in 2007 for $4,050 in unpaid taxes, records show.
On Wednesday afternoon, Dai said he had not heard from the city.
A spokeswoman for the city’s law department said officials were considering additional fines against Dai for the code violations on his property, and they were looking into possible criminal contempt of court charges.”
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