Man accused of setting 13 fires to outdoor dining structures, trash in Chelsea

CHELSEA, Manhattan (WABC) -- A man is under arrest for allegedly setting more than a dozen small fires up and down Eighth Avenue in Chelsea Monday morning.

Alex Blodgett, 39, was arrested after police say he set the outdoor dining structure outside Loulou Petit Bistro & Speakeasy on fire just after 4 a.m.

Blodgett is suspected of setting 13 fires on Eighth Avenue, starting at around 2:40 a.m. Many were garbage fires.

Exclusive video obtained by Eyewitness News shows the flames taking over the outdoor dining structure at Loulou.

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Cellphone video captures firefighters responding to a blaze in Chelsea on Monday morning.

The owner of the restaurant next door first spotted the suspect zeroing in on his curbside set-up.

"He saw a guy trying to light here, kicked him off his property but ended up lighting the deck here first and then he threw something in here and lit this on fire," Loulou general manager Jonathan Torres said.

In just a matter of minutes, two structures that were covered with highly flammable flowers and lanterns were destroyed.

The restaurant was closed at the time, but many residents have considered the bistro a second home since March 2020 when it opened and are devastated.

"This has been such a wonderful space for everyone during the pandemic, serving people, gone out of their way to make the place beautiful and inviting, it's absolutely horrible," Chelsea resident Robert Valin said.

Officials say the suspect also set fires in front of Marquee on 10th Avenue and at the outside dining structure at VIV at 49th and 9th.

"When I came this morning to open the restaurant it was like all burning over here," said Narondwit Lee with VIV. "Our restaurant looked so beautiful maybe someone was jealous."

The Brooklyn man was taken to Bellevue Hospital for a psychiatric evacuation.

It's not yet clear what the suspect's motives were and charges against him are pending.

"This is an opportunity to rebuild, make it better for winter and summer, fingers crossed we're able to open inside within the week," Torres said.
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