BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - Detectives believe a Buffalo man hired an arsonist to burn a home to the ground.
Federal prosecutors won't say how much money was exchanged or if any other charges are coming, but describe this as an "arson for hire" case. Still, the federal grand jury knows who else was involved in the scheme.
In the dark of night last May, Mackinaw Street was lit up by flashing lights and fast-moving flames. Fire reduced the home to rubble, leaving an empty lot that's become a muddy mess.
Now, months later, a federal grand jury accuses Michael Fijal of paying someone to purposely set the empty building on fire.
US Attorney William Hochul said, "What the grand jury indictment says is he has liability as if he himself set the fire."
Hochul provided News 4 with the indictment, noting Fijal took money out of his HSBC Bank account to pay for the arson. The fire was so intense it spread to the house next door. Firefighters had to rescue Michael Manczak's handicapped son. Seven months later, the thought of this fire still makes him emotional.
"You can't just go around doing stuff, putting people's lives at risk like that. It's very scary to wake up in the morning to something like that. Also, it endangers my son's life," said Manczak.
News 4 went to speak with Fijal about the arson and conspiracy charges, but there was no answer at his home when we reached out for comment. Fijal reportedly owns several houses on Tennessee Street, where he lives, and we're he's on the board of directors for the Old First Ward Housing Association, serving as the housing committee chair.
Hochul won't say why Fijal may have gone through with this crime, stating, "We are not required to find an actual motive, we merely have to solve the question: Who set the fire?"
But knowing the fire was set on purpose, Manczak has one message: "Think about what they did, they should pay the price. If you want to play, you got to pay."
Hochul says Fijal was arraigned, pleaded not guilty and was let go. He's due back in federal court in May. If convicted, he faces 20 years in prison.
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