Landlord failed to renew Carbon Street home with city’s rental registry before explosion

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — The landlord whose rental home’s basement exploded last week on Carbon Street was “not current” with rental registration required by Syracuse Codes Enforcement, a spokesperson confirms to NewsChannel 9.

Because an updated codes inspection is required, the registration renewal process could have brought attention to the uncapped natural gas valve that led to the explosion.

City records show the rental registration for 205 Carbon Street was last issued on October 19, 2020 and expired 36 months later, around October 2023. A city spokesperson says a 60-day notice was sent to the owner in August of 2023, but the landlord never applied.

The city website states: “Owners are required to obtain a Rental Registry Certificate for each one-family and/or two-family non-owner occupied dwelling rented or leased within the City of Syracuse.” Landlords are required to register properties every three years, including requesting a required inspection from Syracuse Codes Enforcement.

Syracuse Codes Enforcement cannot proactively visit properties without an owner’s request or complaint.

Had it been scheduled, that required inspection could have detected the code violation that ultimately resulted in the home’s explosion.

An investigation by the Syracuse Fire Department determined the cause of the blast to be free-flowing natural gas from an accidentally opened valve meant for an unused appliance hook-up.

Last week, the Syracuse Fire Chief said the fuel leak and subsequent blast were likely preventable has the unused hook-up pipe been capped.

“The cap would have prevented a leak from happening if it was installed properly,” said Fire Chief Michael Monds.

Capping unused natural gas pipes is required by International Fuel Gas Code. It reads: “Gas outlets that do not connect to appliances shall be capped gas tight.”

Those caps cost anywhere from $0.68 to $1.12, master plumber Craig Peterson told NewsChannel 9.

He requires his team at Peterson Plumbing & Heating to scan for uncapped pipes and cap them, regardless of the job.

The small piece of metal screws into the end of the gas pipe, blocking any fuel if the valve is accidentally opened.

“This can get turned on inadvertently,” Peterson explained, “by a small child, or you can walk by and bump it.”

“Turn on a light switch, create a spark, get the right air/fuel mixture, and you’ve got a bomb,” he said.

12 of the 13 people inside the Carbon Street home when it exploded went to the hospital. As of Monday, June 24, five were still hospitalized: two adults and an eight-month-old in critical condition and two toddlers listed in fair condition.

NewsChannel 9 is waiting to hear back from the property owner.

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