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Man charged with arson continued to set off fireworks as Brooklyn home burned, video shows

Posted at 10:08 AM, Jul 03, 2020

NEW YORK CITY — Fire marshals arrested a 36-year-old man accused of setting off fireworks that burned down a Brooklyn home last month, officials said Thursday.

Officials said that the video shows Damien Bend igniting the illegal fireworks on June 24. Bend is charged with arson, FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro said.

"Illegal fireworks pose significant dangers to the safety of New Yorkers and their property," Nigro said. "Our Fire Marshals will continue to actively enforce the laws relating to illegal possession and sales of fireworks in New York City."

Bend allegedly set off numerous fireworks, sending one of them through a window at around 9:25 p.m. last Friday night. Officials say he continued to light them, even as flames could be seen through the window of the 51st Street home.

Video shows that one of the people with Bend appeared to be smoking a cigarette and filming himself as he shot off the fireworks.

His friend, also filming himself, eventually noticed the house was burning at 9:32 p.m. — about seven minutes after the fire started.

The video showed one of the men trying to contain the fire with a garden hose, to no avail.

"They were doing it in such a confined area it was just bound to happen," said FDNY Captain Michael Koco, director of safety education. "It was a recipe for disaster."

The FDNY has set up one of a number of informational booths across the city to inform residents of the dangers of setting off fireworks, given the dramatic spike in complaints.

"A lot of times, the people that are being harmed are the bystanders," Koco said.

In the last nine days, fire marshals in New York have arrested 17 people and confiscated nearly $37,000 worth of illegal fireworks.

It took 60 firefighters to knock down the blaze started by fireworks at 51st Street.

"They're illegal for a reason," Koco said. "You're talking about explosives. So you need someone who's a professional to handle them."

This story was originally published by Aliza Chasan and Cristian Benavides on WPIX in New York City.