Men sentenced for marijuana house explosion that killed firefighter

NEW YORK (AP) — Two men who caused the death of a New York City fire chief in an explosion at an illegal indoor marijuana-growing operation two years ago were sentenced to prison on Friday for their guilty pleas to manslaughter and marijuana charges.

Garivaldi Castillo, 33, and Julio Salcedo, 36, were charged in the death of Battalion Chief Michael Fahy, 44, a 17-year veteran of the fire department and father of three. Castillo was sentenced to six years in prison while Salcedo was sentenced to up to four years.

Authorities said the men tampered with gas lines at a Bronx house where they were growing pot indoors, and leaking gas was unable to escape through foil-covered windows. When firefighters arrived in September 2016 to check out reports of a gas leak, Fahy ordered the occupants out of the two-story house.

Shortly afterward it exploded, killing Fahy when he was struck by a section of slate roof.

Before the sentencing, defense attorney Dawn Florio read a letter from Salcedo, saying he was too "overcome with emotion" to speak for himself.

"Chief Fahy is my hero," Salcedo wrote. "He saved my life. I promise the court, I promise the firefighters, I promise Chief Fahy's family, I will be productive as soon as I get out."

Castillo, speaking through an interpreter, offered an apology. "From the bottom of my heart, I didn't want any of this to happen," he said.

The courtroom was filled with Fahy's colleagues and family members.

Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark said it was a rare instance of someone being held criminally responsible for conditions that caused the death of a firefighter in the line of duty in New York City.