updated 3/26/2007 5:26:46 PM ET 2007-03-26T21:26:46

A full-size school bus that had been converted into an oven, complete with smokestack, exhaust fans and working fire, was discovered by police after a neighbor said he smelled smoke.

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The red and white bus, in the backyard of a residence owned by the rabbi of a Hasidic Jewish congregation, was turning out thin, crisp matzo crackers for next week's Passover holiday, said Sgt. Lou Scorziello of the Spring Valley police.

He said police found the bus bakery early Friday morning.

"It was up and running," he said Monday. "Smoke was coming from the stack, and there was a working fire."

"This is a tinderbox," the sergeant said.

"There certainly was the potential for an explosion," he added.

The owner of the bus oven, Rabbi Aaron Winternitz, told reporters Monday that he has been turning out matzos for his 50-member Mivtzar Hatorah congregation inside the bus for three years.

The bus is attached by plywood to the back of the house and the oven is fueled by wood and gas from lines that were illegally extended from the house, said Manny Carmona, the village enforcement officer who joined Scorziello at the site Monday.

‘It’s not as hazardous as it looks’
"There's a gas line that has not been inspected, and the bus has been attached to the house in a totally illegal way," said Carmona.

However, after inspecting the inside of the house and bus, Carmona somewhat revised his assessment of the situation, telling reporters, "It's not as hazardous as it looks. The fire is contained properly."

He said he would not issue a summons if Winternitz provided "clear drawings and approval by a licensed engineer" by the end of the day Monday.

"It looks safe but you can't go on looks," Carmona said.

He also told Winternitz that the bus would have to moved back from the house.

"It's too close. If something happens, it could spread to the house," Carmona said.

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