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Chicago studies if proper permits issued for porch that fell
CHICAGO -- City officials Monday were investigating whether proper construction permits had been issued for a porch that collapsed, killing 12 people and injuring at least 57 others.
The collapse happened about 12:30 a.m. Sunday in the city's affluent Lincoln Park neighborhood at a three-story building that was converted from five apartment units to three. City officials said the third-floor wooden porch was apparently rebuilt at the same time.
No criminal charges will be filed because the collapse was a civil matter, said police spokesman Carlos Herrera.
Officials issued a permit in 1998 to LG Properties, the management company for the apartment building, only to install four furnaces, air conditioners and water heaters, said buildings department spokeswoman Maria Toscano.
Earlier on Monday, Chicago Building Commissioner Norma Reyes said permits had been issued for the conversion work. However, officials later determined the porch and the conversion were not authorized.
Looking for violations
Toscano said the city was looking for any similar violations at 27 other properties in Chicago managed by LG Properties.
Building owner Philip Pappas, who Reyes said was in Canada, did not return phone calls for comment from The Associated Press. LG Properties referred calls to Mike Aufrecht, whom they identified as a partner. He did not return calls from The Associated Press.
Pappas has been named as a defendant in at least three Housing Court cases for three different addresses other than where the porch collapsed, said Jenny Hoyle, spokeswoman for the city's Law Department. All the cases included problems with porches on the buildings, which were quickly fixed, Hoyle said.
One of those cases cited Pappas and others for "failure to rebuild or replace dilapidated and dangerous porch," court records show.
A structural engineer conducted a preliminary examination and determined that the porch was sound before the collapse, Reyes said Sunday.
City officials are investigating whether the porch gave way because it was overloaded.
The collapse has prompted questions about the safety of porches and whether weight limits should be posted.
As many as 50 people, most of them in their early 20s, were crammed onto the apartment's third-floor porch for a party when the floor dropped from under them, sending people and debris crashing to the ground.
Seven men -- including John T. Jackson, 22, a native of Kansas City, Mo. -- and five women, many of them on the porches directly below, were killed.
The building's owner, who Reyes said was in Canada, and its management company did not immediately return calls from The Associated Press.
On Monday morning, 12 small, white wooden crosses were placed on the ground behind the apartment building, each bearing the name of one of the dead. Several bouquets of pink roses and white and lavender daisies were on the sidewalk in front of the building.
Northwest of Chicago, eight people were taken to the hospital after a deck on a second-floor apartment in Rockford collapsed Sunday night. Eleven people were on the deck when the deck gave way with a crack.