Kids Die; Man Leaps|From Flaming Building

     CHICAGO (CN) – A fire in a South Side Chicago building with no working smoke detectors forced a tenant to jump from a third-story window to save himself – but four children died in the flames this week, a tenant claims in court.
     Darlene Hudson, on behalf of her son Nathaniel Johnson, sued Tahir M. Sheikh and J&J Real Estate Management and Construction, on Tuesday in Cook County Court.
     “At 3:25 a.m. on September 8, 2014, fire broke out in a largely vacant second-floor apartment in the 18-unit building located at 11242 South Vernon Avenue, Chicago IL 60628. The flames raced up through and engulfed the building, killing the four children of Nathaniel Johnson’s girlfriend, Shamaya Coleman, and severely injuring Nathaniel Johnson. The fire raged until 4:30 a.m,” the complaint states.
     The building, owned by Sheikh, failed its last inspection in June; in fact, it failed 23 of its 37 inspections in the past nine years, Hudson claims.
     “The investigation found that defendants negligently failed to fulfill the basic requirement of providing and ensuring the use of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Other negligent acts and omissions highlighted by the department of buildings investigation included the failure to adequately maintain the stairways, failure to fix the inadequately installed or broken furnace, and failure to fix broken doors and windows. These negligent acts and omission were proximate cause of Nathaniel Johnson’s injuries.
     “The failure to provide and ensure the use of smoke detectors resulted in Nathaniel Johnson being unaware of the fire until it was too late and he suffered injuries related to burns and smoke inhalation.
     “The lack of adequate escape routes resulted in Johnson having to leap from the third-floor apartment. This resulted in multiple serious injuries to Johnson,” according to the complaint.
     Hudson’s attorney Martin Dolan told NBC Chicago: “If the building is safe, it gives [the children] an opportunity to survive this fire. But because of the condition of this building, they had no chance.”
     NBC reported that Sheikh has taken out major loans on the buildings he owns in the city – nearly $1 million more than he paid for them. City inspectors visited his other buildings on Tuesday and found multiple violations, including faulty smoke detectors, blocked exits, and a broken chimney, according to NBC.
     Johnson’s mother seeks damages for negligence, as well as a court order directing the city to turn over the building’s past inspection reports, and documents related to the fire scene inspection.

%d bloggers like this: