BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The last valid work permit for the building that caught fire on Wednesday and claimed the life of Buffalo firefighter Jason Arno, expired in October, authorities said.
This comes after Buffalo Fire Commissioner said Wednesday that construction workers had been at the scene before the fire broke out.
He says the workers had been using torches on the outside of the building, causing the heat to get inside and allowing the fire to smolder. Now, investigators are looking into whether they were even allowed to be doing that work in the first place.
According to the city’s department of permits and inspections, there are no active or valid permits for that address.
Because of this, The building’s owner, former Congressman Chris Jacobs, as well as the building manager or construction crew could be held responsible.
“Not having a permit in this situation would be in violation of probably a Buffalo city ordinance. That would end up in housing court and that can result in a fine and in some circumstances, in egregious circumstances, can result in 15 days of incarceration,” attorney Christopher Pannozzo said.
Pannozzo says the property owner and construction manager could also be sued in civil court if the necessary permits were not in place.
“Several agencies are in the process of conducting their investigation into this tragic event. I can discuss this matter with you after that investigation is completed. All I will say at this point is that the workers on site were licensed and insured contractors,” Jacobs said in a statement to News 4 on Friday.
A city spokesperson says it is still early in the investigation. Buffalo and State Fire along with the ATF will remain on scene, but they are looking into everything at this time.
Marlee Tuskes is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here and follow her on Twitter.