STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — A 47-year-old man stands accused of setting a fire that severely damaged a popular restaurant and bar on Bay Street in St. George in February.
Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro announced on Thursday that fire marshals arrested and charged Ibrahim Annan, 47, for starting a fire on Feb. 11 at the Cargo Cafe, 120 Bay St.
The fire resulted in an estimated $300,000 worth of property damage.
Annan is alleged to have ignited the blaze following a dispute at the eatery after restaurant staff had him removed, according to the FDNY statement.
“This arrest sends a clear message: Anyone who uses fire as a weapon will be brought to justice,” Nigro said. “This individual put the lives of New Yorkers and responding Firefighters in jeopardy and our Fire Marshals’ investigation demonstrates the aggressive, dedicated work of the FDNY Bureau of Fire Investigation.”
Firefighters were called to Cargo Café for reports of a fire at 5:19 a.m. and arrived in four minutes, according to the FDNY.
“The quick response allowed Firefighters to bring the incident under control without injuries to civilians or FDNY members,” Nigro said. “Fire Marshals responded and began an extensive investigation, including the use of Bucca, one of the FDNY Bureau of Fire Investigation’s accelerant detection canines. Bucca was able to determine the fire’s origin and confirmed that a flammable substance was used as an accelerant.”
Annan of Victory Boulevard in Silver Lake was apprehended on Tuesday about 1 p.m. at the rear of the Cargo Cafe, according to a spokesman for the NYPD’s Deputy Commissioner of Public Information.
The suspect has been charged with arson, criminal mischief, conspiracy, and reckless endangerment and the case will be prosecuted by the District Attorney’s Office, according to the FDNY.
Annan was arraigned in Criminal Court on Wednesday and his bond has been set at $7,500. He is due back in Court on Dec. 12, according to public records.
The suspect has five other cases pending in Criminal Court involving misdemeanors, according to public records.
An attorney for the suspect did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Cargo Café had re-opened only days before the fire following renovations.
“Our hard work has gone up in smoke,” owner Edward Gomez said at the time. “We just did a whole major renovation.”
The “all-hands” blaze battled by about 60 firefighters and EMS personnel and 12 units initially was called as a dumpster fire. The fire extended to the roof of the about 100-by-40-foot commercial building before it was brought under control at 5:59 a.m. without any injuries, according to initial information by the FDNY.
Smoke and water damage could be seen inside the cafe. The back exterior of the restaurant was charred.