Following Fire, Office of Building and Codes Inspects Adjacent Properties, Numerous Issues Found

On Monday the Rockland County Office of Buildings and Codes (OBC) inspected 120 and 122 S. Lake Street in the Village of Spring Valley owned by Jacob Jeremias, who also owns 118 S. Lake Street the site of Saturday’s fatal fire.

On Saturday March 4, 2023, a fire broke out at 118 S. Lake Street in the Village of Spring Valley that resulted in 5 fatalities, including 2 minors.

“While the cause, origin, and circumstances of this fire are still under investigation, I directed our Office of Buildings and Codes to inspect all properties owned by Mr. Jeremias and had our Center for Rockland Codes Investigations look into prior violations at the properties as well,” 𝐬𝐚𝐢𝐝 𝐂𝐨𝐮𝐧𝐭𝐲 𝐄𝐱𝐞𝐜𝐮𝐭𝐢𝐯𝐞 Ed Day. “We are utilizing every tool at our disposal to protect residents.”

Single and two-family homes, which all properties involved are classified as, are not subject to required inspections under New York State law but all tenants in 120 & 122 S. Lake Street properties allowed OBC inspectors to enter and inspect the properties for safety concerns.

OBC is still finalizing the number of violations found Monday at 120 & 122 S. Lake Street properties but can confirm numerous issues were discovered that include:

-single-room occupancies

-electrical issues

-missing smoke & carbon monoxide detectors

“Our joint investigation with the Spring Valley Police Department into the fire at 118 S. Lake Street, Spring Valley is still ongoing but preliminarily has been able to confirm that smoke detectors were present in the structure. The exact cause of the fire has not yet been confirmed but was very likely accidental and related to electrical issues within the structure,” 𝐬𝐚𝐢𝐝 𝐑𝐨𝐜𝐤𝐥𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐂𝐨𝐮𝐧𝐭𝐲 𝐒𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐢𝐟𝐟 𝐋𝐨𝐮𝐢𝐬 𝐅𝐚𝐥𝐜𝐨.

OBC inspected 116 S. Lake Street on Saturday, which is also under Jeremias’ ownership, immediately after the fire. That property was cited for multiple violations including illegal conversions.

The County Office of Buildings and Codes (OBC) assumed control of the Village of Spring Valley Building Department as ordered by New York State Department of State (NYSDOS) effective February 14, 2022, and in that time has not received any complaints about 116, 118, 120 or 122 S. Lake Street.

Under New York State law, 3-family homes and above, commercial, and places of assembly are subject to mandatory inspections, which fall under OBC’s jurisdiction.

A deeper investigation by the County of Rockland into 118 S. Lake Street revealed our Center for Rockland Codes Investigations (RCI) had five prior complaint cases for the property from 2015 through 2021. RCI is a unique, first-of-its-kind, department investigating all sanitary health code violations, including allegations regarding single family dwellings, multiple dwellings, rental properties, and owner-occupied premises.

All RCI cases for 118 S. Lake Street were resolved, with landlords curing the violations, including the most recent case of violations being resolved in August of 2021 which included pests, missing smoke detectors, and missing CO detectors. All those cases were in response to complaints received from tenants. RCI has not received any further complaints about the property which the County has confirmed changed ownership since our last visit in 2021.

RCI visits to 120 S. Lake Street included illegal rooming house complaints and an illegal daycare, with all issues abated. RCI’s only visit to 122 S. Lake Street was regarding feral cats in 2019.

On Monday the Rockland County Department of Health’s Healthy Neighborhoods Program (HNP) provided safety outreach and education to neighbors in the vicinity, including smoke and carbon monoxide alarm installations with the Red Cross.

The Healthy Neighborhoods Program (HNP) offers free home visits to identify and discuss health and safety issues in the home for eligible residents including low-income residents, seniors, and at-risk families.

“The only way we can investigate properties in Spring Valley that don’t fall under New York State required inspections is if we receive a complaint. Our ability to rectify these issues is dependent on residents notifying us which is why it is critical for anyone living in unsafe conditions report them to the proper authorities whether it be your local municipality, our Center for Rockland Codes Investigations, or our Office of Buildings and Codes so we can take action,” 𝐬𝐚𝐢𝐝 𝐂𝐨𝐮𝐧𝐭𝐲 𝐄𝐱𝐞𝐜𝐮𝐭𝐢𝐯𝐞 𝐄𝐝 𝐃𝐚𝐲. “We will hold all property owners responsible for putting lives at risk and make sure egregious violations are remedied immediately.”

The Office of Buildings and Codes requests all interested parties submit complaints within the Village of Spring Valley by calling 845-364-3700 or emailing BuildingsAndCodes@co.rockland.ny.us.

Rockland Codes Investigations requests all Sanitary Code Violations be reported to 845-364-2585 or by filing a report online.

To schedule a free Healthy Neighborhoods Program home visit, a presentation for your organization, or for more information, please call 845-364-3292 or 845-364-3290.

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