Authorities are not quite sure what caused a water tank to fall from the top of the Brewster building near Belmont Harbor on Wednesday morning but they are sure that three people were injured in the incident, one of whom was critically injured by the tank.
The Brewster building is located on the corner of Pine Grove Avenue and Diversey Parkway and is a well-known building in the area. At over 120 years old, the building has been a constant view for all current neighborhood residents and many of those that came before. Like many of the older buildings in the city, the Brewster had a water tank perched on its roof. Originally installed for combating potential fires, the Brewster’s tank reportedly was also functional in that it provided the residents of the building with their household water supply.
Authorities indicate that the tank was made of wood and was approximately 10 or 12 feet tall and 8 feet in diameter. It sat upon the roof of the building for decades but on Wednesday, the entire tank fell to the street below, more than eight stories. Witnesses say that upon impact, water and debris was strewn across the ground and the crash sounded like a roar.
Wednesday was the last day of July and therefore a common day that many residential leases end. Several tenants of a surrounding building were reportedly moving out as the water tank crashed to the ground. The tank inflicted damage on at least on U-Haul truck and a passenger sedan that were parked on the street around 10:00 a.m. and in the path of the falling tank.
When the tank hit the ground, part of the wood splintered and flew through the air. Police say that three people on the street were injured, including one woman who sustained critical injuries from some pieces of wood that broke from the tank and traveled airborne, striking her. She was transported to Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center as was a man who was injured in the incident with a third victim being taken to St. Joseph’s Hospital. The current conditions of the victims is not known but all were expected to survive.
Water tanks on city rooftops are known as historic landmarks in many cases and the City of Chicago has passed regulations governing their status, including making it somewhat difficult to remove them. The tanks are required to undergo inspections every five years to determine if they meet safety requirements and to address any lingering issues. It is not clear what made this tank fail but experts speculate that it could be related to the steel supporting the tank itself.