NEW YORK (FOX5NY) - Authorities have charged a Brooklyn man in connection with a mall parking garage fire that destroyed dozens of vehicles and injured more than 20 people.
The NYPD arrested Avon Stephens, 23, Monday afternoon after releasing images captured by security camera video near where the fire raged at Kings Plaza Mall in Mill Basin. Stephens faces arson an charge.
The fire sent thick black smoke through the neighborhood and could be seen from Manhattan. The fire went to seven alarms with more than 200 firefighters on the scene.
The fire injured at least 21 people including 18 firefighters who were treated for minor injuries. None of the injuries were believed to be life-threatening.
The fire broke out on the second floor of the four-story garage at around at around 9 a.m. It was unclear what started the fire or how many cars were damaged but fire officials said it was "many" that burned.
Mercedes-Benz of Brooklyn uses part of the parking deck to store vehicles. A manager told Fox 5 News that he was unsure how many of the dealership's cars were in the garage and they were being kept away from the scene. Fire officials said that the dealership's cars were among the ones that burned but they couldn't give an exact number.
People reported hearing explosions. Fire officials said that they were likely tires exploding on the cars that burned.
The mall was not open when the fire started so it was unclear how many vehicles were on the deck. Kings Plaza announced on Twitter that it was closed Monday due to the fire. Fire officials said that the flames did not reach the actual mall and no stores were damaged.
Firefighters extinguished the fire by about 11 a.m. Crews then checked the structural integrity of the deck.
Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea tweeted that the NYPD's Arson and Explosives Team and the FDNY continue to investigate.
Police are asking the public to report tips to the Crime Stoppers hotline at 800-577-8477 (English) or 888-577-4782 (Spanish) or website at www.nypdcrimestoppers.com.