Updated 07/31/13 – 6:04 p.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) — Three people were hurt — one critically — when a water tank fell into an alley in the Lakeview neighborhood on Wednesday, sending water and debris flying.
The wooden tank fell from the roof the 120-year-old Brewster Building, a 9-story apartment building in the 2800 block of North Pine Grove Avenue around 10 a.m.
The tank was from a 100-year-old water tower on the roof.
“It had been modernized at some point, because it has a liner inside of it. For reasons we don’t yet know, it failed, and fell all the way to the parking lot,” Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford said.
Three people were hurt when the tank fell into the parking lot, where a man and woman were getting into a car. The woman was critically injured by falling debris. The man was washed down the alley by the wave of water, and was later taken to a hospital in fair to serious condition.
A neighbor, Patricia, said she called 911 after hearing the man screaming for help.
“We immediately called, and then we later gathered from the situation that it had fallen on her, and she was barely moving,” she said.
Another woman, who was coming out of the apartment building across the alley, also was hurt by falling debris. She was taken to Illinois Masonic hospital in fair to serious condition. Sources tell CBS 2 that the woman is expected to make a full recovery.
Ashley, who lives across the alley, said water and debris from the tank hit her 6th floor apartment window.
“It just sounded like thunder almost,” she said. “I kept seeing stuff falling. … Wood just kept falling. It looked like a balcony was collapsing, and then I looked, and I saw it on the ground.”
At least three moving trucks and several cars were in the alley where the tank fell.
Kathleen Mullins was helping her sister move out of the building at the time.
“I just saw a lot of debris that was on the ground, I saw a lot of water, I saw people crying,” she said. “If you looked down the alley, you just saw people freaking out, running around, trying to get moving trucks out of the way, and then you saw the ambulances coming in.”
After securing the scene and treating the injured, firefighters climbed to the top of the building to determine exactly what caused the tank to fall.
CBS 2 investigative reporter Pam Zekman reports that building has had a number of problems with city building code violations including a failed annual inspection in May for elevator problems.
But three years ago it failed an inspection in part because of issues with its water tank.
The question is whether what happened on Wednesday was linked to findings by city inspectors found in February 2010
Records show the building owner was ordered to relocate the steel bands on the water tank to their original position, and hire a licensed architect or structural engineer to check it out, and submit a report to the city about the water tank.
Building inspectors were on the scene after the accident, reportedly inspecting the water tank’s metal mounting bracket.
The city reportedly has more than 100 water tanks perched on top of buildings, many of which are still in use for fire prevention and general water usage.
A fire department official said others have fallen like the one today, but very rarely.