What to Know
- More than 100 cars were damaged in a seven-alarm inferno at the Kings Plaza parking garage Monday; a 23-year-old man is accused of arson
- Twenty-one people, 18 of them firefighters, were hurt; all of the victims are expected to be OK
- Kings Plaza has more than 120 stores, including Macy's, Best Buy, Sears, H&M, Michael Kors, Express and Foot Locker
A 23-year-old man has been accused of intentionally torching a multi-level parking garage at Brooklyn's Kings Plaza Shopping Center, sparking what would become a seven-alarm inferno that shrouded the borough in choking smoke and left nearly two dozen people, most of them firefighters, hurt.
Evon (Evan) Stephens, of Brooklyn, was arrested hours after the blaze on a single charge of arson. He was believed to be a person seen on surveillance camera in the area at the time the fire broke out. A motive wasn't clear, nor was there information on an attorney for Stephens.
Stephens is facing a federal charge of damaging by fire real property used in interstate and foreign commerce -- federal, officials say, because the 137 burned cars belonged to a dealership and were frequently moved between states. Seventy of the damaged cars were burned to their shells, many of them Mercedes.
Twenty-one people, 18 of them firefighters, suffered non-life-threatening injuries in the fire, mostly related to smoke inhalation and heat exhaustion. Four of the victims were taken to hospitals.
Stephens was convicted in 2014 of attempted robbery, and had several bench warrants, authorities said. During his arraignment Tuesday, the government requested a permanent order of detention because of his prior conviction, saying he presented a "real threat" to society. Prosecutors also said Stephens, by his own admission, has no stable home to return to.
No bail package was presented during his court appearance.
The Kings Plaza Shopping Center garage holds about 4,000 spaces and fire officials said 120 cars are normally stored there by a car dealership. There were some explosions from car tires burning, but officials said there were no concerns of collapse.
The plaza was closed for two days following the fire. It will reopen with regular business hours on Wednesday, and parking levels P1 West and P2 West will be open and accessible from Flatbush Avenue, officials said. All other garage entrances will be closed. The shopping center's other entrances will be open.
"We want to express our deep appreciation for the incredible first responders from FDNY and NYPD," said senior manager Steve DeClara. "Their actions to contain the fire and apprehend a suspect on the same day are truly awe-inspiring."
Kings Plaza has more than 120 stores, including Macy's, Best Buy, Sears, H&M, Michael Kors, Express and Foot Locker.
In 2013, it became the subject of a controversial order that temporarily banned people younger than 18 without the presence of an adult after hundreds of teens attacked patrons and vandalized the shopping center, forcing it to shut down.
No one was ultimately charged in that fray, nor was anyone hurt.