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updated: 10/9/2013 12:49 PM

Mount Prospect building still could collapse

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  • Two air-conditioning units sink into the roof of Tri-State Electronics in Mount Prospect.

       Two air-conditioning units sink into the roof of Tri-State Electronics in Mount Prospect.
    Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

 
 

A Mount Prospect electronics store remained in danger of collapse Wednesday morning after part of the roof caved in Tuesday afternoon.

Mount Prospect public safety workers and ComEd employees were on the scene at Tri-State Electronics, 200 W. Northwest Hwy., monitoring the situation.

Michael Luber said he has owned for building for about 40 years. "It's lucky no one was hurt," he said of Tuesday's partial roof collapse. "If it falls now, it will create a mess, but no one will be hurt and that's the important part."

It first became apparent there was a problem about 11 a.m. Tuesday.

"All of a sudden the building shook big time," employee Mark Missele said. "I thought a 40-foot semi had backed into the building."

After that, employees heard weird noises and called the fire department.

Fire officials believe a wood truss supporting the roof snapped, breaking a water line and causing a domino effect of breaking trusses throughout the afternoon that left the building on the verge of collapse Tuesday evening. Part of the roof at the back of the building and the building's roof-mounted air-conditioning units fell in.

All employees from the electronics store as well as the neighboring carpet store were evacuated safely.

"It's sagging and the walls are bowing out, so it's just a matter of 'when' right now," Mount Prospect Battalion Chief Randy Uidl said Tuesday night.

"It progressed so rapidly that they weren't able shore up the building," said Uidl, who believes the structure is 60-plus years old.

Police shut traffic down in the westbound lanes of Northwest Highway beginning at 4 p.m., and reduced it to one lane in either direction in the eastbound lanes.

"We wanted to give traffic a wider berth around it," Uidl said.

On Wednesday morning, traffic was kept to one lane in each direction to avoid danger of injury if the building collapses, Fire Chief John Malcolm said.

About 9:30 a.m., a contractor and a structural engineer entered the building to attempt to determine if it would collapse, needed to be torn down, or could be saved.

ComEd employees were rerouting major power lines behind the building so that service wouldn't be disrupted if the building collapses.

The building is 15,000 square feet and the business sells cabling and parts to installers. The single-story business has five employees. Luber said the building has had the same roof the whole time he's been here and he's never had any structural issues.

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