House that caught fire and killed 78-year-old tenant had 62 code violations

ROCHESTER, N.Y. – The house on Hancock Street that caught fire last week, killing one of the tenants, had 62 code violations by the city.

On Monday, Rochester police released the name of the woman killed. Police say the body of 78-year-old Christine Cannon was found early Friday morning, on the third floor of the multi-unit home. They have not been able to identify cannon’s relatives or next of kin and are asking for help. Anyone with information is asked to call the medical examiner’s office at 753-5905.

The arson task force and major crimes unit are investigating.

The list of code violations tell us this house was on the city’s radar. Some of the violations were for trash or tree limbs, broken windows and gutters. But, from the last inspection in November, the property failed to get a certificate of occupancy and had at least one violation for smoke alarms.

Dana Miller, Commissioner, Neighborhood and Business Development: “We were actually preparing to go to the next step on this property, which is to take it to our law department and move forward to actually vacate the property.”

Brean: “How far away were you from doing that do you think?”

Miller: “Just a matter of days. Absent this happening, it would have gone to the law department more likely than not this week or next week.”

Property records show the house did not have a certificate of occupancy. That affects owners because they can be fined. It does not immediately affect the tenants so people could still live here.

“One of the things we don’t normally do, and can’t do, is tell all of the people who live in a property, your C-of-O is expired, you all have to move out,” Miller said. “If we did that our homelessness problem would be probably 10 times what it is right now.”

A property can’t get a C-of-O if it has violations.

Brean: “In the November inspection it said the home, or parts of it, needed working smoke alarms. Do you know if that was fixed prior to last Thursday?”

Miller: “I don’t know if that was fixed or not. Our understanding is that smoke alarms are generally considered a priority because it’s a health and safety violation.”

I called and texted the property owner. I went to his $279,000 house in Greece too. No one came to the door and he didn’t call or text me back.

City records show the property on Hancock Street owed more than $17,000 in property taxes.