Fox News Christmas tree relit after fire in Midtown; suspect released

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Friday, December 10, 2021
Fox News Christmas tree relit after fire in Midtown
Workers quickly replaced the Christmas tree that was set on fire outside the Fox News building in Midtown for a relighting ceremony.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- Workers quickly replaced the Christmas tree that was set on fire outside the Fox News building in Midtown.

The tree was set on fire Wednesday, but just one day later, it was replaced and relit.

This holiday tradition has only been around at this site for three years. The 50-foot Christmas tree sat at the intersection of West 48th Street and 6th Avenue.

It had only been up three days before it was set on fire just after midnight on Wednesday.

The suspect, 49-year-old Craig Tamanaha, was arrested on the scene.

WATCH raw video: Fox News Christmas tree goes up in flames

Video from the Citizen app shows the Christmas Tree in front of Fox News headquarters going up in flames.

Police say he climbed up the metal structure and stuffed newspapers in open spaces and then set them on fire with a lighter.

He has been charged with criminal mischief, reckless endangerment, arson, criminal nuisance, endangering others, criminal trespass, criminal tampering and disorderly conduct.

He has three prior arrests, two for drug possession and one for public intoxication.

Investigators say Tamahana may have tried to set the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center, a few blocks away, on fire first.

Tamahana was arraigned on supervised release, which means he is supposed report to a person who will report back to the court as early as Thursday.

According to a criminal complaint he told police, "I have been thinking about lighting the tree on fire all day."

Thursday morning, Mayor-elect Eric Adams spoke out on bail reform.

"That's probably a picture perfect example, not having the discretion to do a profile of the person that is in front of you," Adams said. "This guy has clearly made a decision that I'm going to continue to wreak havoc. Arson is a serious crime."

Onlookers were in disbelief.

"It's an assault on Christmas," said tourist Rob Davanzo..

"My sister called me from Colorado, said someone burned the tree. And now I came, and it really happened," a spectator said.

"I'm looking at the trees that are burnt. My husband is a big Fox News fan. I told them if we're in the area we'll get our picture taken in front of the tree. And there's no tree," a tourist said.

The company says the 50-foot high tree has 10,000 glass ornaments and 100,000 lights. It takes more than 21 hours to assemble.

The damage was estimated to be $500,000.

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