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Fire destroys Niagara Falls City School District maintenance barn, $5 million in damage

Superintendent: worker charged with arson
Posted at 11:35 AM, Feb 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-26 18:15:31-05

NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WKBW) — A fire ripped through and destroyed the Niagara Falls City School District maintenance barn Tuesday night.

According to Superintendent Mark Laurrie of the Niagara Falls City School District, the fire caused $5 million in damage.

"Last night (February 25, 2020), the Niagara Falls City School District maintenance barn behind the High School was destroyed by fire. All of its contents are a total loss," Laurrie said in a statement. "As sad as this event is for our District, we are grateful that no one was injured in the fire. The Niagara Falls Police and Fire Departments were amazing. The City is lucky to have such brave men and women."

The school district stored trucks and equipment in the barn. Laurrie says the school district will recover from the fire.

According to Superintendent Laurrie, a temporary buildings and grounds worker has been charged with arson. The superintendent identifies the individual as Ricky Ponds, who has been working for the district since 2017.

Laurrie says Ponds turned himself in to Niagara Falls Police and said he started the fire.

"He had purchased a lighter from Walmart, used gasoline that was in the barn and started the fire," Laurrie said.

Laurrie says while the motive is unclear, earlier that day Ponds had been told he was being moved back to a cleaner position from his temporary position as a buildings and grounds worker.

Fire crews are investigating.