ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Stay up to date on the latest headlines in today’s Sunrise Smart Start on Wednesday, January 26, 2022.


At least 65 people lost their homes following a large apartment complex fire at the Pines of Perinton near Honeysuckle Terrace early Tuesday, town officials said.

Firefighters worked to control the fire that engulfed the Pines of Perinton apartment complex in flames for more than four hours.

“We found large quantities of smoke coming from the roof of the apartment complex, the issue was that the fire spread to neighboring units,” Fairport Fire Chief John Overacker said. “The quick action of the initial company to knock out the bulk of the fire was huge, and working smoke alarms do save lives.”

Perinton town officials say the displaced in the fire are currently being sheltered at the Perinton Community Center. The local school district is also actively keeping residents warm and providing food.

No injuries were reported in the fire. At of 8:45 a.m., fire crews declared the fire was under control.

Authorities say there is no determination to what caused the fire at this time. Investigators will be at the scene of the fire throughout most of the day as they continue to work with evidence and witnesses.

Governor Kathy Hochul’s statewide mask mandate remains in effect Tuesday, after a judge issued an order staying a New York State Supreme Court decision that found the mandate unconstitutional.

The court document states, “While the intentions of Commissioner Bassett and Governor Hochul appear to be well aimed squarely at doing what they believe is right to protect the citizens of New York State, they must take their case to the State Legislature.”

State officials filed an appeal to the court’s ruling Tuesday. The stay was issued hours later.

The mandate was enacted by Gov. Hochul last month, requiring face coverings in schools and other public places, in order to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 omicron variant.

Governor Hochul released the following statement in regards to Tuesday’s ruling:

“As Governor, my top priority is protecting the people of this state. These measures are critical tools to prevent the spread of COVID-19, make schools and businesses safe, and save lives. I commend the Attorney General for her defense of the health and safety of New Yorkers, and applaud the Appellate Division, Second Department for siding with common sense and granting an interim stay to keep the state’s important masking regulations in place. We will not stop fighting to protect New Yorkers, and we are confident we will continue to prevail.”

Rochester police say one man was detained Tuesday, after trying to set another man on fire in the Civic Center Garage.

Officers on scene determined no one was on fire. Police say two men had been arguing before one of them attempted to set the other on fire.

They say the fire did not spread, and the would-be victim fled before officers arrived.

Police say the man who tried to set the fire was detained. The arson task force is investigating.

A family in Greece is looking for answers after their daughter was the victim in a hit-and-run incident Sunday night.

Kristine Harris was snow-blowing the driveway of the home she shares with her fiancé when a car driving by hit her, launched her into the air, and left her with multiple life-altering injuries.

Greece Police confirmed a 31-year-old female was struck by a car. A car that fled the scene prior to police arrival.

“I don’t understand how somebody could hurt someone and leave them on the side of the road like they’re trash. She’s a person. She’s a human. She’s loved,” Fields said.

Luckily, Harris wasn’t left on her own for long, thanks to the heroic actions of two good Samaritans.

“I’m not 100% sure if they saw what happened or they just saw her on the road, but however, they stopped and they blocked the traffic with their car. And he came up to the door while he was on the phone with 911 and came and got me,” Fields said. “I don’t know what their names are. I didn’t really catch much information from them, but I’m 100% certain that they saved her life.”

Along with the broken bones, Harris is also suffering from being scuffed up badly throughout her body.

“She had a lot of wounds on her back. Her skin and her muscles were actually separated. They have drainage tubes in there right now, so they’re really worried about infection. The next 24 to 48 hours are going to be very critical for her, so they’re going to keep an extra watch over her,” Hoover said.

Harris’ family along with Greece Police are asking anyone with information about the incident to call 911 or the Greece Police Department at (585) 581-4016.

The family has also set up a go-fund-me account to help with medical expenses.

Groups like Recovery All Ways and Rochester’s Homeless Union have now helped move more than 30 residents into motels, hoping to keep them safe and warm during the winter months and on-going pandemic. 

Sheldon Thompson is one of the individuals who has been staying at Motel 6 in Rochester. He grew up in the Town of Nunda, New York, but has been in and out of homelessness for the past three years. 

“I’ve had a bit of bad luck running. I guess I became homeless when a relationship went south,” Sheldon said. “I had family to turn to, but nobody to move in with. So in my mind, being in a small town, there wasn’t really many job opportunities. And when you don’t have a vehicle or resources… I decided to move to Rochester where there’s a bus line and plenty of job opportunities.”

Thompson said growing up in the country, he wasn’t super afraid to be without a home, but he still asked for help from local organizations in Rochester. However, Sheldon said he was often sent to homeless shelters in the area.

Sabine Adler, Organizer Coordinator for the Rochester Homeless Union, said in 2019, there was 800-900 homeless individuals in Rochester a night. She said the majority of funding to help these individuals goes to homeless shelters. 

“No one has ever really stopped to think, why do we think that shelters are the solution? And has that actually changed the number of homeless people a year?,” she said.

Because of this, local groups like Recovery All Ways and the Homeless Union are raising money over GoFundMe to put people in motels. So far, they have raised more than $10,000. Adler said most of the people they are helping have been “sanctioned” from social services. 

“A sanction means that you did not comply with social services regulations. That could be you missed appointments, you filled forms out wrong, you didn’t complete treatment. There’s a variety of reasons that people get sanctioned. And then you have a certain amount of time, it can be up to 30, 90, 180 days, where you cannot receive any social service assistance at all,” she explained. 

Every Saturday, Recovery All Ways hosts outreach events where people can grab a warm meal, food to go, clothes and any supplies they may need. You can learn more about the organization by clicking here

You can also donate to help place individuals in motels and provide them with winter supplies. The GoFundMe can be found here.

Today’s forecast is expected to be relatively mild with clear skies but bitter cold. Rochester will be spared by wind chill, but some flurries will drop into tomorrow morning. On Thursday we’ll finally break into the 30s.