Second Fire In Bronx Neighborhood Sparks Arson Talk

NY Daily News - December 22, 2009

by Katie Mcfadden and Rocco Parascandola

A Bronx fire Monday tore through a supermarket, a diner and a dentist's office just a block away from where a blaze destroyed 14 mom-and-pop shops on Halloween.

The two fires - neither of whose cause is clear - sparked concerns among residents that an arsonist may be on the loose in the neighborhood.

Two firefighters suffered minor injuries in the 4:30 a.m. fire Monday, which started in the basement of the American Diner, then spread to an adjacent Foodtown and a dentist's office at 291 E. 204th St. in Norwood.

The five-alarm fire took 198 firefighters nearly five hours to bring under control.

Neighborhood residents were concerned. "When you burn up stuff, the property value goes down," said Daren Hollman, 47. "It's got to be an arsonist."

Helen Rosario, 45, said she was beginning to feel good again about her neighborhood after some of the stores burned out on Halloween had begun to rebuild.

"I had just got so much joy because they started rebuilding the stores," she said. "It gave you hope when you saw them rebuilding Dunkin' Donuts, and now this happens."

As firefighters battled both the chilly temperatures and the smoky conditions, merchants and workers from the gutted businesses gathered at the scene.

"We don't know the damage," said Mohammed Solaimon, 58, who owns the Dhaka Discount and Grocery. "I see dropping water, and it's smoky."