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News 8 WROC

Family of victim in Hancock fatal fire come forward

By Eriketa Cost,


ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) – UPDATE : Family of 78 year-old Christine Cannon came forward Thursday evening, according to Van Stanley, who is organizing her memorial.

Cannon lost her life in a house fire on Hancock Street, when investigators originally reported no known next of kin.

Stanley told News 8 the family members knew her by another name. They are working to ensure she can be buried next to her father and brother.

Among those family members who came forward, is her aunt.


A tragic situation, is taking a heartwarming turn.

Strangers are coming together, to honor 78-year-old Christine Cannon, who lost her life in a house fire on Hancock Street.

“You could tell that she was a person a lot about service and community,” said Venita Jackson, retired Air Force Veteran.

Jackson said she got chills when she learned Christine Cannon was also a vet.

While the two didn’t know each other, she’s heard great things.

“She took care of the people in that building, that was a nine apartment building, and she took care of them,” said Jackson.

While other tenants got out safely, some were reported injured.

Police say she had no known next of kin.

Van Stanley, owner of People’s Choice Kitchen was heartbroken, reading the news.

She decided to call county officials and claim her, if no one else would.

“I want everyone to know that I will claim her, I will be glad to claim Christine Cannon, and I’ll say she’s my godmom, so I’m officially her god daughter,” said Stanley. “She served our country, the least I can do is make sure she has a decent memorial service and funeral.”

Stanley said she felt called upon by God to take action. It was a matter of reaching out to a pastor and setting up a date.

While Stanley didn’t know her personally, she met the other tenants in the building who did, who said she was always cleaning up and tidying the neighborhood.

County officials said they couldn’t release too many details about her life, for confidentiality reasons.

“When veterans, especially indigent veterans die, it takes a little while to dictate where they could be buried,” said Nick Stefanovic, Director of the Monroe County Veteran Services Agency. “But I do know she does qualify to be buried in a veteran cemetery it’s an option.”

It’s not uncommon to see older veterans without a next of kin, according to Stefanovic. And some veterans can even self-isolate.

“It happens for a number of reasons, and we try to do everything we can to help it not happen,” he said.

Stefanovic says this particular story, is heartbreaking, because so little is known about who Christine Cannon was: where she was from, and even what she looked like.

We do know she served in the U.S army, in 1969, and was honorably discharged.

Stefanovic says they have programs through the Veterans Affairs, designed to help these older vets who may be alone. This includes recreational programs to help get vets out – and interact with other veterans.

As for her service in the army, it’s unclear how long she served.

The funeral is set for Saturday February 11, at 4 p.m., at the Power House Kingdom Cathedral Church of God in Christ.

Organizers are encouraging any veterans to come out in uniform and show their support.

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