Two Niagara Falls men plead guilty in fatal 2020 fire caused by fireworks

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NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WIVB) – Two Niagara Falls men have pleaded guilty for their roles in a fatal Niagara Street fire in July 2020.

A fire broke out at 1815 Niagara Street on July 6, 2020, after Damion Ellis and Zachary Preisch set off fireworks in an apartment, setting the building on fire. Both were 18-years-old at the time.

A resident of the building, 52-year-old Ward Schaal, was killed in the fire.

Ellis pleaded guilty to second degree manslaughter and Preisch pleaded guilty to criminally negligent homicide.

Preisch also pleaded guilty to two counts of second degree attempted criminal possession of a weapon for separate, unrelated incidents in Niagara Falls.

Both return for sentencing on Nov. 16. Preisch faces up to seven years in jail and Ellis faces up to five years.

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