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Man arrested after multi-car fire in New York City-shopping mall, parking garage

Avon Stephens was arrested on arson charges.

(FDNY/NYPD)

A man was arrested Monday night after a massive fire ripped through a New York City-shopping mall, parking garage, sending thick, black smoke into the air and injuring 21 people.

Avon Stephens, 23, was taken into custody on arson charges hours after the fire in the four-storey garage in Kings Plaza mall, officials said. Security cameras captured Stephens on the scene moments for several cars caught fire.

“I’m sorry. I apologize,” Stephens reportedly was heard to say Monday as he was led to the police car.

MORE THAN 200 FIREFIGHTERS RESPOND TO MULTI-CAR BLAZE IN NEW YORK CITY-SHOPPING MALL, PARKING GARAGE

Mall security identified Stephens as a homeless man who slept in the garage and was asked to leave the area, the New York Post reported. Stephens is expected to appear in the court on Tuesday.

The fire in the garage in Brooklyn’s Mill Basin neighborhood began around 9 a.m. Monday and quickly escalated. More than 250 firefighters worked to contain the fire for nearly three hours.

Brooklyn. large fire at the Kings Plaza shopping mall @FDNYAlerts @FDNY pic.twitter.com/MCUtnjyBEG

— Motty Brauner (@motty58) September 17, 2018

Photos and videos of the scene showed thick, black smoke into the air. The explosion-like sounds were caused by tyres bursting, FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro said.

“I heard, ‘Boom! Boom! Boom!’ “Mike Wright, who lives near the scene, told the New York Post. “The next thing I know, firetrucks are coming out. I look up, and there is a huge plume of smoke over the neighborhood.”

Nigro said 18 firefighters and three other people suffered injuries including smoke inhalation and heat exhaustion.

The garage stores about 120 vehicles for a car dealer in the neighborhood. Many of those vehicles were on fire when officers arrived.

Katherine Lam is a breaking and trending news digital producer for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter via @bykatherinelam

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