Landlord cited for codes violations after Columbia Street fire


UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - Fire officials say there were not enough smoke alarms or fire extinguishers in the west Utica home that burned Wednesday morning, critically injuring a tenant.

Jeffrey Howarth, 50, lived at 914 Columbia Street, a building the Fire Chief has referred to as 'a boarding house.' Howarth is in SUNY Health Science Center in Syracuse with first and second degree burns to much of his body and was upgraded from critical to serious condition.

The house failed a codes inspection in June 2012, but passed a month later after the owner addressed certain issues. The structure would not have been inspected for another three years unless a complaint was generated, or, as was the case Wednesday, a fire brought codes and fire officials to the home.

Now, landlord Michael Morrissey is cited for several new codes violations.

Among those violations was lack of fire extinguishers in what fire officials call a multi unit structure, lack of maintenance to existing smoke alarms, inadequate number of smoke alarms for that type of structure and, perhaps most significant, failure to register the property as a multiple dwelling structure.

Reached by phone shortly before Noon on Friday, Morrissey was bewildered by the allegation that he failed to properly register his property. He says it's not a boarding house, but rather is a two flat, two-family house. He says it is a matter of multiple people renting rooms within those apartments.

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