Fire officials believe a homeless man ignited a seven-alarm blaze that ripped through a parking garage at a Brooklyn shopping mall Monday, leaving more than two dozen people injured. Six civilians and 22 of more than 250 responding firefighters suffered non-life-threatening injuries, including smoke inhalation and heat exhaustion, after plumes of black smoke were seen escaping from the second level of the Kings Plaza Mall's garage around 8:30am, reports the New York Daily News. The Wall Street Journal puts the number of injured at 50. Meanwhile, up to 120 cars stored by a Mercedes-Benz dealership went up in flames.
Spotted in the vicinity by surveillance cameras, 23-year-old Avon Stephens was charged with arson after allegedly admitted to starting the fire, which led to multiple tire explosions, per CBS News. Per the Daily News, the homeless man known to sleep in the garage had been repeatedly booted by security. "I'm sorry," Stephens said as he was placed in a patrol car, reports News 12 Brooklyn. Closed as a result of the fire, the mall will remain shuttered for at least part of Tuesday as officials check the stability of the parking structure. Per News 12, the fire came less than two weeks after a bomb threat at a mall store.