Little Village building where 10 kids died in fire to be demolished by mid-July

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Ten children between 3 months and 16 years old were killed when a fire broke out in the second-story of a coach house in the 2200 block of South Sacramento Avenue. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

The building in Little Village where 10 children died in a fire last year will be demolished by mid-July.

The demolition order for the rear structure at 2224 S. Sacramento was entered Thursday in Cook County Circuit Court, records show. It stipulates the building, located between an apartment building on the street and a garage on the alley, must be gone by July 18.

The official cause of the fire has not been determined in the five months since it occurred. The child death toll matched the highest in a Chicago fire since the infamous Our Lady of the Angels Catholic School fire in 1958.

The blaze broke out in the early hours of Aug. 26, claiming the lives of cousins Amayah Almaraz, 3 months; Alanni Ayala, 3; Gialanni Ayala, 5; Ariel Garcia, 5; Giovanni Ayala, 10; Xavier Contreras, 11; Nathan Contreras, 13; Adrian Hernandez, 14; Cesar Contreras, 14; and close family friend Victor Mendoza, 16.

After the fire, an investigation by the Chicago Department of Buildings’ Strategic Task Force found 38 violations in the front building, including missing or defective smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, defective light fixtures, and armored cable, electrical wiring and plumbing installed without permits.

RELATED: History of violations at building where children died, alderman says

Other violations included junk and debris obstructing exits; a basement container filled with gasoline; porch and exterior door defects; evidence of rodent and roach infestation; an attic full of junk and debris that posed a fire hazard; and improper clearance for electrical panels.

Six more violations were found during a separate inspection of the rear two-story where the children died in the upper-level unit; the lower level was unoccupied.

Investigators found a smoke detector in the charred remains of the building, but it didn’t have a working battery.

Last December, the attorney for building owner Merced Gutierrez told the Sun-Times there already were plans to destroy the structure.

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