The 50-foot Christmas tree that stands outside the Fox News headquarters in New York City was set on fire by a homeless man early Wednesday morning, prompting emergency services to extinguish the blaze and leading to the man’s arrest.
On Sunday, the tree was ceremoniously lit in the network’s “All-American” Christmas special. The tree was reportedly decorated with some 10,000 ornaments and 100,000 lights.
By Wednesday, just after midnight, one of Fox’s hosts announced the fire during a live broadcast.
“This is the Fox Square in New York, outside of Fox headquarters,” said host Shannon Bream in the midnight broadcast. “It appears that our giant Christmas tree there, just a couple of minutes ago, was completely engulfed in flames.”
According to ABC7, the blaze spread from the main tree to smaller trees after the 49-year-old unhoused man, identified as Craig Tamanaha, climbed up an artificial structure and lit some papers he brought as kindling before shoving the burning papers into the tree.
Tamanaha then calmly climbed down and watched the tree as it burned.
He’s since been charged with criminal mischief, reckless endangerment, arson, criminal nuisance, endangering others, criminal trespass, criminal tampering and disorderly conduct.
Fox News Media chief executive Suzanne Scott has condemned the act and swore to replace the tree.
“We will not let this deliberate and brazen act of cowardice deter us,” Scott said in a corporate memo quoted by New York Times. “We are in the process of rebuilding and installing a new tree as a message that there can be peace, light and joy even during a dark moment like this.”
Police are still ascertaining why Tamahana saw fit to burn the tree down.
“The motive I don’t think is clear at this point,” Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said. “It’s an individual that is known to us. He has a series of low level arrests and drug arrest. He was issued earlier this year some appearance tickets and didn’t come back to court, which unfortunately is something we see all too often. Also has some low level arrests out of state.”
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