Court documents: Men arrested in fatal Spring Valley fire used wrong propane tank, didn’t extinguish flames

Nathaniel and Aaron Sommer - the rabbi and son independently hired to kosherize the kitchen for Passover - are facing the most severe charges connected to the fire at Evergreen Court.

News 12 Staff

Jun 30, 2021, 9:14 PM

Updated 1,078 days ago

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News 12 is learning more about the recent charges filed and the moments leading up to the deadly fire in Spring Valley back in March.
Six people are now facing charges in connection with the fire.
Nathaniel and Aaron Sommer - the rabbi and son independently hired to kosherize the kitchen for Passover - are facing the most severe charges connected to the fire at Evergreen Court.
Court documents accuse them of using a propane tank marked for "outdoor use only" to "heat appliances, surfaces and other items in the kitchen," and not extinguishing open flames. Documents go on to accuse them of igniting combustible materials that they then left burning unattended outside.
They allegedly did it without a permit for the torch and placing the fire alarm on test.
"What we know is there is a culture of noncompliance in municipalities, it's unfortunately met with tragedies like this and we were in Spring Valley," says Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski.
Zebrowski has been fighting for stricter code enforcement in Rockland County, with increased fines, state monitors and laws meant to hold code enforcers responsible.
"And quite frankly those efforts have not been successful enough to change the culture in these municipalities," says Zebrowski.
The rabbi and son are charged with manslaughter, arson and assault - facing up to 15 years behind bars.
Two village employees are also among those charged: Wayne Ballard, the director of Building and Public Works, and Ray Canario, the assistant building inspector who was still working under a provisional status.
The district attorney would not say whether more people will face charges, but two sources News 12 spoke with believed so.


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