An arson fire rocked a busy commercial corridor.
A fire in a second floor apartment at 1003 and 1005 Morris Park Avenue on Thursday, February 21 put two local shops on the ground level temporarily out of commission and resulted in an arson arrest.
Ariel Santiago of 350 E. 143rd Street was arrested and charged with arson, reckless endangerment and criminal mischief, stated a NYPD official.
According to a document shared with the Bronx Times written by a source in the FDNY, the arrest resulted after an investigation by fire marshals disclosed that the suspect allegedly poured lighter fluid on a sofa and ignited it with papers lit by the kitchen stove.
The blaze occurred in the apartment above Luciano’s Pizza and Kaizen Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
The fire department was called to the location at 12:57 a.m. on February 21, arriving on the scene in three minutes and 54 seconds, and bringing the fire under control by 1:28 a.m., according to the FDNY.
The ‘all hands’ fire brought 12 responding units and 60 firefighters to the location.
Minor injuries to four civilians and one firefighter were reported.
Al D’Angelo, Morris Park Community Association president, said he was relieved that the FDNY was able to contain the fire to the second floor apartment above the shops, which suffered water damage.
D’Angelo expressed serious concerns about the arson allegation.
“This type of violence is something that is foreign to Morris Park,” said D’Angelo of the alleged arson.
William Pedone, Morris Park Business Improvement District chairman, said that the BID would be reaching out to the impacted businesses.
“We will be reaching out to them and offering any assistance we can, maybe getting them in touch with any programs, including those through the Department of Small Business Services, who may be able to help,” said Pedone.
A spokesman for Councilman Mark Gjonaj said that the office is waiting for the investigation to play itself out.
Before news of the arson arrest, and before the councilman left on an overseas trip, Gjonaj spoke to the Bronx Times about the fire.
The councilman said that he has teamed up with the FDNY and the Red Cross to provide fire prevention assessment surveys to his constituents.
Morris Park was the scene of another fire at the start of the winter that temporarily displaced another business.
An electrical fire on December 23, 2018 at approximately 10 a.m., forced the Avenue Cigar Lounge at 1074 Morris Park Avenue to temporarily close, its owner said.
The cigar lounge, which offers a complete line of imported cigars, was a popular meeting and after work place for local people, said a cigar store patron.
Owner Dominick Principato said that he plans on reopening, and is currently waiting on insurance and is looking for another possible space in Morris Park.
Principato said that area residents, whether they smoked cigars or not, appreciated the lounge because it was open late most evenings, and people felt the street was safer.
Principato said that a neighboring hair salon and an adjoining apartment were impacted by the pre-Christmas Eve blaze.