Insurance company hopes to block demolition of home where firefi - FOX 32 News Chicago

Insurance company hopes to block demolition of home where firefighter died

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

An insurance company representing owners of the home where a Chicago Fire Department captain died battling a blaze last week filed an emergency petition Tuesday, hoping to block the city from demolishing the structure.

Allstate Indemnity Company insures the property for landlords Lucia and Mario Soriano and filed the petition in the Chancery Division of Cook County Circuit Court.

The petition asks a judge to grant a temporary restraining order preventing the city of Chicago from demolishing the home at 2315 W. 50th Pl.

Fire Dept. Capt. Herbie Johnson, a 33-year veteran promoted to captain just this summer, died after suffering second- and third-degree burns from a possible "flash over" while battling flames inside the 2-story home on Nov. 2. A second firefighter, Brian Woods, suffered non-life-threatening smoke inhalation.

SEE: Chicago firefighter killed in extra-alarm blaze on South Side

"We did an inspection as was appropriate and we processed the building for demolition," said Department of Buildings spokesperson Susan Massel.

The petition claims the city plans "immediate demolition" of the home "in no less than within 72 hours."

Massel declined to comment on a timeframe for the proposed demolition Tuesday night, but said it was the appropriate course of action because more than 25 percent of the house sustained fire damage.

Allstate's attorneys say the investigation into the cause of the blaze is still ongoing, and that the property must be preserved so experts can finish analyzing forensic evidence. The home does not pose a threat to the surrounding community, they claim.

The owner and the insurance company can provide their own restoration plan, and no demolition would go forward until fire department officials complete their own investigation, Massel said.

Johnson was the first Chicago firefighter to die in the line of duty since 2010.

Authorities had not officially determined the cause of the blaze as of Friday, but said a water heater in the attic was of interest as the source, Fire Media Affairs Director Larry Langford said.

The petition asks the restraining order remain in effect until all parties can attend a hearing on the matter.

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