New Jersey man charged for torching his New York City Restaurant Forced to Shut Down by City

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QUEENS, NY – A New Jersey man has been charged for setting fire to his Queens restaurant which has been forced to close during the COVID-19 pandemic.  He was caught on video on his own restaurant video security system.

New York Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro announced today that Fire Marshals have arrested Asif Raja, 54, for allegedly using a flammable liquid to set multiple fires in a restaurant located at 30-27 Steinway Street, Queens on August 4th, 2020.

Firefighters were called to the location for reports of a gas odor at 10:13 p.m. where they discovered a water condition from the sprinkler activation as well as small separate fires throughout the structure that were extinguished prior to their arrival. The incident was brought under control without any injuries to civilians or FDNY members.

Fire Marshals immediately responded to the scene and determined the fire to be suspicious in nature. An extensive investigation in-cooperation with the Strategic Explosive and Arson Response Task Force of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) led to the identification and arrest of the suspect.

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“We are extremely grateful that no one was injured during this incident and for the collaboration between all the law enforcement agencies involved in bringing this individual to justice,” said Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro. “This arrest demonstrates the strategic value of this Joint Task Force and their ability to hold those that purposely set fires in this city accountable.”

Raja is charged with one count of arson that carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in federal prison with a maximum sentence of 20 years if convicted.

The case will be prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York.