In normal times, and even now as businesses are starting to reopen a little more in New York City, the famous Diamond District is bustling day and night.
But on Tuesday night, people stood in shock as several fires burned on West 47th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues. Outside Jewels By Jacob, it wasn’t precious jewels that were getting attention, but rather the glow of small fires.
“It was pretty crazy. I’ve never seen anything that before on 47th Street. Just flames going up, just random,” said Sammy Ghassabian, vice president of the business. He said he couldn’t believe his eyes, witnesses dumpsters and trash aflame.
Police said someone set the fires around 9:30 p.m. Tuesday. The alleged arsonist has some who make their living in the well-known part of the city worried.
“It’s obviously very dangerous. You could hurt somebody like that. Fires spread,” said Mike Nekta, who owns Leon Diamond. “Fires are dangerous and I’m very confident in the New York City Police Department.”
Surveillance cameras line 47th Street, so the arsonists were likely caught on camera at some point before, during or after the act. As the NYPD and FDNY hunt for the firebug, Nekta, Ghassabian and fellow local business owners agree: an arrest is crucial.
“You want everyone to feel safe. You want to know the guy has been apprehended and taken into custody,” said Ghassabian.
There were more police in the area on Wednesday, but not arrests had yet been made.