Two arrested in connection to deadly 2015 Schenectady fire

March 02, 2017 06:26 PM

SCHENECTADY - Two arrests are made in connection with the massive Jay Street fire in Schenectady. That fire nearly two years ago on March 6 killed four people. Two weeks later, the fire was ruled accidental.

A state of emergency was in effect while demolition of the building was done.

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Charges were filed against two men on Thursday.

The deadly fire that broke out in what is now an empty lot was ruled accidental. However, the district attorney says the tragedy could have been prevented if the city code enforcement officer had done his job.

Kenneth Tyree, 63, was hauled off to the Schenectady County Jail after his court appearance on a 14-count indictment charging him with manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide.

Tyree is the city code enforcement officer who police say inspected 104 Jay Street the day before it was consumed by a massive fire.

"Mr. Tyree failed in performing the most basic duty of code enforcement to insure that this multiple residence had a functional life safety component," explained Robert Carney, the Schenectady County district attorney.

Carney says the fire alarm system in the building was not operational for at least more than a month, but Tyree lied about it. He's also accused of failing to evacuate the building knowing the fire system was out of service.

NewsChannel 13’s Dan Bazile asked if he Tyree he was bribed to look the other way. "There's no charge of that, no evidence of that at this time," replied Carney.

Tyree was arraigned along with 39-year-old Jason Sacks, who is facing the same charges. Sacks was the building manager at the time. He's accused of failing to maintain the fire detection system on the property. Authorities say the building was occupied without fire doors in the hallways' stairwells, which are required.

"We're not saying that these individuals wanted these people to die, only that they created or allowed to exist a hazardous condition which is directly…related to the deaths that occurred in the building," noted Carney.

Some tenants did complain the building was not properly maintained. Carney says those maintenance problems accelerated the spread of the fire, killing four people and injuring several others as a result.

According to the indictment, Tyree also lied on his application when he was hired as a code enforcement officer. Carney says if the city knew, he would not have been hired.

Both men are in the Schenectady County Jail.

The grand jury is not done with its investigation. More charges may be possible.

NewsChannel 13 has been trying to get the inspection records on the Jay Street building since the fire. The city denied our first two requests due to the ongoing investigation. We filed a new request Wednesday and are waiting to hear back.


WNYT Staff

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