New York

Teen pleads guilty to arson in plant fire that killed friend

A 14-year-old boy has pleaded guilty to starting a fire that ripped through a western New York tire recycling plant last summer, killing a teenage friend who was with him and forcing evacuations of nearby homes.

The teen pleaded guilty Thursday in Niagara County Family Court to arson and burglary charges stemming from the fire at the High Tread International in Lockport. Charges against him had initially included criminally negligent homicide.

Authorities say the teenager and 14-year-old Joseph Phillips got into the plant Aug. 10 and started lighting fires. Phillips became trapped in a building and was killed. His body wasn't found until after firefighters spent nearly two days extinguishing the blaze.

Sentencing will be later. Penalties range from probation to up to 18 months in a juvenile detention facility.