NYPD makes arrest after Manhattan French restaurant outdoor dining area ignites – CBS New York

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NEW YORK (CBSNew York) – A popular Chelsea restaurant has been forced to close temporarily, after its open-air dining structure caught fire.

An arsonist allegedly targeted the restaurant.

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As CBS2’s Cory James reported on Monday, the NYPD believes the suspect behind the blaze may have started at least a dozen more.

As the video shows, a man’s walk to the restaurant was relaxed, but his behavior looks suspicious.

Seconds after being seen walking away from the hanging plants, a rapid fire takes over the west side of LOULOU on Eighth Avenue. And by this time, the north side of the popular French bistro was engulfed in flames.

“Right now they’re talking about a few hundred thousand dollars in damage,” LOULOU CEO Jonathan Torres said.

Torres said one of his employees was working around 4:30 a.m. Monday when the fire broke out.

The video shows this worker trying to put out the flames with a bucket of water before the firefighters arrive.

“He tried to put it out, but the fire caught on so quickly,” Torres said.

Police said Alex Blodgett, 39, was arrested and sources told James he was charged with three counts of arson and one count of reckless endangerment.

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Police believe Blodgett not only started this fire, but also 13 minor trash fires in the same area, including one that occurred outside of VIV in Hell’s Kitchen.

However, authorities said LOULOU had the most damage to its outdoor catering structure.

Passers-by couldn’t help but stop and take photos of the charred debris and furniture left behind.

“It’s just sad, very sad. I hope they can recover, ”said Victor Campozano of Chelsea.

“Yes, this place is moving every day,” said another person.

“It’s very disheartening, really, really sad,” added another.

Although repairs can take up to four weeks, Torres said he was just glad no one was hurt and the whole building hadn’t burned down.

“We have insurance. We’re ready, ”Torres said. “So now we move on and just do better than before.”

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Police said a motive was still unclear, adding that Blodgett had been taken to Bellevue Hospital for a psychiatric assessment. It will be booked once out of the hospital.


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