Niagara Falls school district employee charged with arson after maintenance garage fire

Local News

NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WIVB) — A Niagara Falls City School District employee is facing charges after he admitted to setting a maintenance garage on fire Tuesday.

The School Superintendent tells News 4 the call came in around 9:15 p.m. that the maintenance garage behind Niagara Falls High School was on fire.

Mark Laurrie says it housed much of the district’s equipment including snow plows and tractors. He says much of that is destroyed, about $5 million worth of damage.

Laurrie says Rickey Ponds was a temporary groundsman, but was told Tuesday that he’d return to his permanent position as a cleaner. Laurrie says he called in sick for the rest of the day, but later that night he came back to the garage and set it on fire.

Laurrie says he’s thankful no one was hurt.

“He did not give a reason, I have not heard a reason. All I know is that he told the officers that he made a mistake, those were the only words he shared. Right now we’re in the mode of cleaning up and restoring and moving forward to make sure we’re ready to remove snow,” said Laurrie.

Laurrie says the District does have insurance. But as a result of this fire, Laurrie says they are now down some snow plows.

And with snow and wind expected in the next few days, Laurrie says several school districts and the city have reached out to help.

Laurrie says Ponds turned himself into Niagara Falls Police less than an hour after the fire. He is charged with arson, burglary and criminal mischief. He was arraigned Wednesday morning in city court and released without bail. He’s due back in court March 11th.

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