Two lanes of Northwest Highway in Mount Prospect will remain closed until Thursday afternoon as officials monitor a building that they said is structurally unsound and may collapse.
On Wednesday morning engineers, Mount Prospect public safety workers and ComEd employees were on the scene at Tri-State Electronics, 200 W. Northwest Hwy., assessing the damage to the building from a partial roof collapse Tuesday and how to proceed.
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"It's lucky no one was hurt," said Michael Luber, who has owned the building for about 40 years. All employees from the electronics store as well as the neighboring carpet store were evacuated safely. "If it falls now, it will create a mess, but no one will be hurt and that's the important part."
Employees noticed something was wrong around 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 continued hearing loud noises and called the building department and later the Mount Prospect 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.
By Wednesday morning a small crack on the side of the building was continuing to grow and part of the roof at the back of the building and the building's roof-mounted air-conditioning units had fallen in.
"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 the westbound lanes of Northwest Highway beginning at 4 p.m. Tuesday, and reduced traffic to one lane in either direction in the eastbound lanes.
Fire Chief John Malcolm said those lanes of Northwest Highway would remain closed until at least Thursday afternoon for safety reasons.
Engineers were working to stabilize the building so the owner could decide what needed to be demolished.
All utilities to the building were shut off on Tuesday, and ComEd employees worked Wednesday to reroute major power lines behind the building and restore power to nearby Capannari's Ice Cream.
Tri-State Electronics, which has five employees, sells cabling and parts to installers. The building was a grocery store before Luber bought it. He rents out part of the 15,000-square-foot space to a carpet store.
Luber said the building has had the same roof the whole time he's been here and he's never had any structural issues.
Malcolm said it was too early to tell what had caused the collapse, but that the issues weren't something that would be noticed in a village building inspection.
"It's nothing that anyone was negligent in doing," he said. "These are just old buildings with a lot of weight on them."