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L.I. Tanning Salon Owners Devastated After Someone Started Fire

Long Island Tanning Salon Fire

Surveillance video caught a suspect setting fire to Sky Tan in Selden on Wednesday, Dec. 25. (Credit: CBS 2)

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SELDEN, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A Long Island business owner said his livelihood has been destroyed, after a person was caught on camera starting a fire that gutted his tanning salon.

As CBS 2’s Lou Young reported, police continued to search Monday night for the suspect in the fire at Sky Tan in Selden, Long Island, which broke out early on Christmas Day.

“He made a bee line for this bed right here, and this is where is doused the gasoline,” said Sky Tan owner John Rose.

The suspect was shown using a hammer to punch a hole in the window of Sky Tan, climbing inside, and dousing the tanning beds with gasoline, 1010 WINS’ Eileen Lehpamer reported this past weekend.

“He made a trail to the door and he lit it like a fuse,” Rose told Young, “and when he lit it, you can see that explosion happen.”

The blaze turned the Sky Tan Salon at 1198 Middle Country Rd. into a charred wreck. The fire ruined tanning beds, melted light fixtures, and sent charred holiday decorations falling into the ashes and charcoal below.

“We were definitely targeted. We were just very confused as to why somebody could do that. They put 25 people out of work on Christmas morning by doing an act like this, and it was just very unjust and very uncalled for,” Rose said.

The fire also damaged the adjacent Cella Bagels shop, which is also owned by Rose and his partner, Gene Cella.

The salon had been open a little over a month. The men suspected their entry into the competitive business might have rubbed someone the wrong way.

“Somebody’s telling me not to open a tanning salon here,” Cella said. “That’s the message I got.”

As dramatic as it is, that view from outside has not helped much in identifying a suspect, But the view from another camera provided a better image.

The video was pulled from the skeleton of a fire-damaged DVD recorder. The salon manager said the wreckage left behind was more than physical.

“This is my life and it’s destroyed,” said salon manager Briani Froehlich. “Even just being here right now — it’s killing me.”

In a Facebook message Wednesday, the salon said it would rebuild, “but we ask our customers to stay positive, give us (their) prayers, and cooperate with us.” The salon said anyone holding a tanning package would be contacted personally.

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