CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago firefighters are working to cool an apartment building on the North Side where three people were found dead. Residents and relatives attribute these deaths to stifling heat.
Police and firefighters were on the scene Saturday afternoon at the James Sneider Apartments, a building for seniors and people with disabilities in Rogers Park.
Residents are devastated, upset and scared. They told CBS 2’s Shardaa Gray that they complained about the heat to management all week. The city brought in a CTA bus to keep residents cool because managing the cooling center provided was not enough.
Gray walked in to speak to management and felt the intensity of the heat in the hallway before he was kicked off the property.
“I don’t want to die in my apartment,” Loran Barnes said.
She is furious that two of her neighbors died Saturday night from what she says was heat exhaustion.
“Grace, I didn’t die, but my friends did,” she said.
Theresa Gregorczyk said she came to check on her aunt because she didn’t show up for breakfast.
“When we entered the apartment, it was 102 degrees on the thermostat,” she said. “While we were with my aunt, in mourning, the ambulance showed up and there was another deceased person on the seventh floor.”
Chicago Police said three women – aged 67, 75 and approximately 70 – were found unconscious inside the James Sneider Apartments, which is a home for the elderly.
The building is owned by the Hispanic Housing Development Corporation.
Linda Sharpe also lives in the building.
“Last night I couldn’t sleep. I stayed until 3 am. Sweating, I drank a lot of fluids, but the whole night was very uncomfortable,” he said.
Barnes said that two of the ladies who died lived on her floor.
“I’m so angry. I just told them I didn’t want to die in my apartment,” she said. “You can’t breathe there.”
Barnes said she called Ald. Maria Haddon Thursday on the lack of fresh air. She immediately came over and talked to the management.
“Their interpretation of the city ordinance is that they have to provide heat by June first, but they assured me they had it scheduled. So they turned off the heating,” Haddon said.
And they set up a cooling room with air conditioners, but the residents said it was still hot there.
We don’t deserve this. Nobody deserves that,” Barnes said.
Haddon said another reason the air conditioner wasn’t on was that it was difficult to turn off the boiler and then turn on the chillers. She and State Representative Kelly Cassidy, along with volunteers, went in and did wellness checks.
CBS 2 contacted the president and president of Hispanic Housing Development Corporation, but received no response.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office released the following statement:
“Earlier today, the City of Chicago responded to service requests that led to the discovery of fatalities in the same residential building. A unit-by-unit wellness check is underway by the Chicago Fire Department and city representatives are monitoring management. of the building in moving the air conditioning into the building. In addition, a refrigeration bus is available for residents. The investigation into the cause of death remains ongoing. We will continue to take necessary measures to ensure that the residents of the buildings are safe and We will ensure that building management is responsible for the care of its residents. We will provide a further update when more information becomes available. If any residents are experiencing uncomfortably hot temperatures in their buildings, they should call 311 and building management will city will answer.”