Neighbors near the Otis Street warehouse fire want more help from City

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – It’s been more than a month since a five-alarm fire destroyed a warehouse along Otis Street in Rochester, but people who live in the area are still looking for help and answers after their own properties and belongings were badly damaged in the blaze. 

Frank Armon’s property butts up to where the Otis Street warehouse once stood.  During the fire, he offered any help he could, even though it ultimately cost him, “When they came and they were putting the fire out, they ran a pump in my basement and then the hose broke in the house,” he recalls.

That, he could deal with, but then the flames reached the garage in his backyard, “I was sick, I was sick… all my cars, the electric line burned down so I couldn’t get the door open to get any cars out,” he tells News10NBC.  Armon lost four classic cars, a motorcycle and an ATV, “It was my whole life, I started building cars when I was 15 years old, I always wanted a 62 corvette… it’s gone,” he said through tears. 

Armon had just gotten the 62 Corvette in December and had an insurance policy for that and his 1970 Opel GT set to start on April 1, “The fire department did all they could to save my garage,” he says, “Ya know, the neighbors, we’re all in the same boat, they lost cars and property and it doesn’t seem like we’re getting any answers or any help we need.”

Homeowner insurance should cover the structures themselves and in Armon’s case, he had insurance on two of his cars, but the rest is gone.  While he and other neighbors are considering a lawsuit against the building owner they also think the City of Rochester bares some responsibility.

“They’ve had multiple complaints about that building for years, [owner’s] over $200,000 in arrears on his taxes, there’s 17 violations against the building and any neighbor you talk to around here will tell you what was going on in that building.” Armon says, “It’s not something that is a surprise to the City, they said well, the fire isn’t our fault… well, you’re right you didn’t start it, but you didn’t do anything to prevent it from doing what it did,” he adds. 

A spokeswoman for the City of Rochester says despite the building’s troubled past, the City does not believe it is liable for any damage neighbors are dealing with, but the Mayor’s office does understand the frustration and has offered help with demolition and debris cleanup.

Jennifer Lewke: So, at the moment Frank, you are just paying what you gotta pay to get things cleaned up and you’ll see what kinda happens from there?

Armon: I am, yes. 

Lewke: How much do you think you lost that won’t be covered by insurance? 

Armon: Probably, $300,000 between the two cars, the motorcycle, the ATV.  The payout from the insurance company on the garage won’t cover rebuilding it either. 

The City of Rochester has received notice that at least four neighbors near the Otis Street warehouse believe the City is liable for some of the damage and intends to sue, that does not include Armon. 

News10NBC tried to reach the listed owner of the warehouse on Monday, but all the phone numbers listed have been disconnected.