JERSEY CITY — A Union City man has admitted his role in starting a fire that killed a friend's 1-year-old boy, destroyed or damaged 20 20 apartments and severely damaged a 119-year-old church.

Edwin Diaz, 21, admitted in court Wednesday he was he'd been smoking marijuana in an apartment on Summit Avenue in Union City with Eddie Eddie Gonzalez Sr., 27, according to a report by He said Gozalez Sr., whose son was killed in the blaze, had been lighting matches and tossing them at a sleeping relative. He also admitted to lighting a match and ignited a piece of paper on the relative, as Eddie Gonzalez Jr. slept in the next room.

"After that, we went into the bathroom to smoke (more) marijuana and that's when all this happened," the report quotes Diaz telling the court.

He pleaded guilty to third-degree reckless manslaughter, it said.

The baby lived with his father, mother and a 5-month-old sibling at 1404 Summit Ave., which was engulfed in flames by the time police and North Hudson Fire and Rescue arrived on scene, authorities have said.

Police were unable to get into the building to rescue the boy.

High winds spread the fire to other buildings. At least 85 people were displaced.

Cardinal Joseph William Tobin, archbishop of Newark, announced in June the Ss. Joseph and Michael Parish would be restored. The fire destroyed the church steeple.

“I know that the Union City community continues to feel pain from the events of March 4,” Tobin said in a a letter distributed in Masses this summer. “I met many of you the night of the tragedy and we shared our fears, asking Christ the Redeemer for guidance and support."

— With previous reporting by Sergio Bichao and Louis C. Hochman

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