Many of the vehicles destroyed were new Mercedes models costing over $100,000.

The Kings Plaza parking garage in New York City went up in flames on Monday. The good news is that nobody was killed or seriously hurt, though a report on the blaze from the New York Post says 21 people did suffer injuries, 18 of them being firefighters trying to douse the seven-alarm blaze. As you can see, the parking garage isn’t small, and the combination of thick smoke with the heat made the fire all that much harder to fight. And yes, it appears this was deliberately set. We’ll get back to that in a bit.

 

Thankfully people were spared, but the same can’t be said for cars in the garage. It serves Kings Plaza, a large shopping mall with over 120 stores in Brooklyn, and it’s also said to be a location where a nearby Mercedes-Benz dealer stores new cars. The report says 137 cars were damaged, with 70 of those being completely burned to nothing more than a smoking shell. Considering the garage has a capacity to hold roughly 4,000 cars, it certainly could’ve been much worse. Not that damage to 137 cars and 21 injuries isn’t bad, but still, you get the idea.

 

As for the new Mercs stored at the garage, it’s believed the vast majority of the burned vehicles were indeed brand new cars from Stuttgart. It’s not a stretch to say we could be looking at close to $10 million worth of automobiles up in flames, never mind the damage to the structure itself. With authorities believing this is arson, somebody could be in big trouble and that someone might be 23-year-old Avon Stephens, who was arrested by police and charged with arson.

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No motive is known yet for the alleged arsonist, but the report says the suspect was a homeless man who often slept in the garage, and that security had ordered him to leave prior to the fire. The first flames were spotted around 8:30 a.m. and the suspect was allegedly seen on security cameras just before the fire started. No buildings at the mall were threatened but the stores were closed. As for the garage, there’s apparently no risk of collapse but nobody knows when it could open back up.

In other words, if this does turn out to be the guy, he’s in some very serious trouble.

Source: New York Post, Breaking 911 via Twitter, Molly Brauner via Twitter, CBS New York via YouTube