A man who allegedly set fire to the Fox News “All-American” Christmas tree early Wednesday morning was arrested by police at the scene, The Hill reports.
According to WABC in New York, 49-year-old Craig Tamanaha “climbed up the metal structure” of the tree just after midnight on Tuesday and “stuffed newspapers in open spaces and then set them on fire with a lighter.” The tree was completely engulfed in flames before firefighters could put it out, but there were no injuries to Tamanaha or any passersby or firefighters, police said.
Damage from the fire is estimated at close to $500,000, according to the local ABC affiliate.
Tree to be relit
The tree has stood 50 feet high at the intersection of West 48th Street and 6th Avenue for the last three years. According to WABC, Fox said it had 10,000 glass ornaments and 100,000 lights.
The ABC station said the tree was being fixed on Thursday and was expected to be relit on the air during Fox’s The Five around 5 p.m. ET.
According to WABC, Tamanaha, for his part, is facing charges including “criminal mischief, reckless endangerment, arson, criminal nuisance, endangering others, criminal trespass, criminal tampering and disorderly conduct.”
He has at least three previous arrests in the city, including “two for drug possession and one for public intoxication,” WABC said. Police said he also has minor arrests outside the state.
He was released from jail Thursday morning under supervised release, which means a court agent will supervise him and report to the court about his situation, WABC notes. Investigators suspect he might have mental health issues.
Fox hosts outraged
Fox & Friends hosts Steve Doocy and Brian Kilmeade expressed outrage about the apparent arson on the early morning program. “This is just beyond tragic and angers everybody,” Kilmeade said as the hosts viewed footage of the tree on fire, according to The Hill.
“Ultimately it comes down to what kind of a person lights a Christmas tree on fire,” Doocy added. The hosts agreed that it would be “symbolic” for Fox News to put up another tree during the season.
According to The Hill, Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott also released a statement about the tree fire. “We are very grateful to the FDNY which quickly mobilized to extinguish the fire and the NYPD which apprehended the criminal on site who has since been charged with arson, among multiple other crimes,” she said.