'We owe them justice': Six people face charges in fatal Rockland County assisted living fire

Six people are facing charges in connection to a fire that claimed the life of a volunteer firefighter and a resident in Spring Valley in March.

News 12 Staff

Jun 30, 2021, 10:17 AM

Updated 1,111 days ago

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Six people are facing charges in connection to a fire that claimed the life of a volunteer firefighter and a resident in Spring Valley in March. 
Rockland County District Attorney Tom Walsh announced the arrest of four Rockland County men as a result of a multiagency, three-month investigation into the fatal fire in the Evergreen Assisted Living Home on March 23, 2021.
The fire claimed the life of volunteer firefighter Jared Lloyd and a resident of the facility. "No investigation or prosecution could match their bravery in the face of that towering inferno. We owe them justice," says Walsh.
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Aaron Sommer and Nathaniel Sommer were charged with manslaughter in the second degree, assault in the second degree, arson in the fourth degree, assault in the third degree and reckless endangerment in the second degree. They were arraigned in Spring Valley Justice Court. Bail was set, and they were transported to the Rockland County Jail. News 12 believes the Sommers are rabbis who were kosherizing the ovens at the facility the night before the fire. 
Wayne Ballard and Raymond Canario are charged with falsely filling reports to New York state regarding fire inspections. Both men were processed and released on appearance tickets. Ballard and Canario are the chief and deputy building inspectors in Spring Valley.  Canario is also a fire chief.
There are also two active warrants out against Denise Kerr, the executive director of the building and Manual Lema, who sources say is an employee at the nursing facility. Kerr was charged with reckless endangerment in the second degree. Lema was charged with criminal impersonation in the second degree and obstructing governmental administration.
The charges come less than one week after the district attorney seized boxes of records from the village of Spring Valley. 
The D.A. says the investigation is still ongoing and there could be more arrests, and that's partly why more details haven't been released.
Statement on behalf of Evergreen: “Evergreen has cooperated fully with law enforcement and will continue to do so. We know from our investigation that the facility’s fire mitigation systems were all operational and functioned as intended the night of the fire. One thing we do not yet know is the extent to which the area’s historic water pressure problems prevented the fire from being contained.”


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