Schenectady DA Announces Two Charged In Jay Street Fire

Mar 2, 2017

Two years after a fire that killed four people, the Schenectady County District Attorney has brought charges in the case.

Following an exhaustive investigation, manslaughter charges have been lodged against Schenectady city code enforcement officer Kenneth Tyree and Jason Sacks, the building manager at 104 Jay Street.   "The people allege that Mr. Tyree failed in performing the most basic duty of code enforcement, to insure that this multiple residence had a functional life safety component. If he inspected the fire alarm panel on that date that he alleges, he would have discovered that it was non-operational, and he failed to take any corrective actions to safeguard the building residents."

Credit WAMC photo by Dave Lucas

District Attorney Bob Carney says Tyree claimed to have inspected the building on March 5th, 2015, the day before a chair fire spread and destroyed the structure, took out two other buildings, left 60 homeless and killed four people who lived at 104.   "A team of investigators from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the Schenectady Fire Department who are cross-designated as District Attorney Investigators, and the Schenectady Police Department conducted an extensive investigation into the conditions existing at 104 Jay Street at the time of the fire that contributed to these deaths."

Schenectady Fire Chief Ray Senecal:  "We were able to get our people in and rescuing upwards of 60 people and get out. Unfortunately we had loss of life. It's a difficult situation."

Carney said Sacks ignored deadly safety risks inside 104 Jay and failed to maintain the fire alarm system. Authorities say not a single smoke detector, fire alarm or pull alarm was operational the day of the fire.  "He faces a count of canceling the monitoring agreement. Which means there was a monitoring service under the previous owner, which means that there was a monitoring service under the previous owner where every time an alarm was tripped, the arms monitoring center would dispatch a message to the fire department. The fire department would show up."

Schenectady DA Bob Carney, March 2017.
Credit WAMC photo by Dave Lucas

Sacks is accused of operating the building without having installed code-required fire doors in hallway stairwells, which may have prevented loss of life.

Tyree is also charged with lying on his employment application.  Carney would not elaborate.

Both Sacks and Tyree were being held at Schenectady County Jail. Carney says there is no timetable for bringing the case to a conclusion.