BRONX, N.Y. (WPIX)—The owner of a Bronx diner is accused of hiring a man to help him set his restaurant on fire last month, causing a five-alarm fire that burned for five hours, ripping through a commercial stretch in Norwood.
Fire marshals arrested Christopher J. Gooding, 53, Thursday on arson and other charges. Authorities arrested Mohammed Abdul Quadir, 52, the following day on identical charges, according to Fire Department Spokesman Frank Dwyer.
Investigators say Quadir -- who bought the diner three years ago -- was in significant debt to his landlord, and had recently bought an insurance policy of more than $500,000 for the diner.
Officials believe Quadir paid Gooding about $2,000 to set the fire.
Gooding was arraigned Friday on charges of third-degree arson, reckless endangerment and criminal mischief. Quadir had not been arraigned Saturday.
From the start, fire marshals determined that the December 21st fire was suspicious. They also confirmed the flames started in the basement of the diner, before spreading to an adjacent Foodtown supermarket, a bank and a dental office.
Nearly 170 firefighters responded to the flames at at 291 East 204th Street.