Jan. 25, 2021 By Michael Dorgan
The owner of a hookah lounge in Astoria was arrested for setting his own restaurant on fire after authorities got their hands on video that captured the incident.
Asif Raja, 54, was caught on CCTV footage lighting multiple fires inside Ignited Restaurant and Lounge, located at 30-27 Steinway St., on Aug. 4, according to the FDNY.
Raja, who is from New Jersey, can be seen dousing tables and chairs using a flammable liquid and then setting them ablaze. He then runs out through the kitchen and switches the lights off before leaving the premises.
Firefighters were called to the scene at around 10:15 p.m. after receiving reports of a gas odor and, upon arrival, discovered that the sprinkler system had put out the flames, the FDNY said.
Fire Marshals investigated the scene and determined that the cause of the fire was suspicious. They arrested Raja with the help of the Strategic Explosive and Arson Response Task Force of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
“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 will appear in a Brooklyn federal court charged with one count of arson that carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison if convicted. The maximum penalty is 20 years in prison.
Fire sale at Ignite
Will move out of the country! And new country will not extradite him. Twenty bucks anyone?
Not too smart…his sprinkler system, his security cameras.
Many of the stores on Steinway have private residences over them. He put many people in danger
How did the police get that video? Did he forget his own Closed circuit cameras? Or was he dumb enough to use internet based cameras thinking that back doors for Police did not exist to be able get a copy? I have no sympathy for this guy, but 20 years is a bit much, since, thank God, nobody got hurt and the fire was put out with sprinklers anyway. This guy is a real fail as an arsonist. Hopefully he won’t get jail time and will be made to pay a massive fine and be on probation for then next 10 years.
This man brings stupidity to a new level.
His planning was exceptionally trump-like. Did he forget he had security cameras?
Living up to the restaurant’s name, I guess.