By Cory James

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A popular Chelsea restaurant has been forced to temporarily close, after its outdoor dining structure went up in flames.

An arsonist is believed to have targeted the eatery.

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As CBS2’s Cory James reported Monday, the NYPD believes the suspect behind the fire may have set at least a dozen others.

As video shows, a man’s stroll up to the restaurant was casual, but his behavior appears to be suspicious.

Seconds after he is seen walking away from plants that were hanging, a fast-moving fire takes over the west side of LOULOU on Eighth Avenue. And by that time, the north side of the popular French bistro was engulfed in flames.

“Right now, they’re saying about a couple hundred thousand dollars in damage,” LOULOU general manager Jonathan Torres said.

Torres said one of his employees was working around 4:30 a.m. on Monday when the fire started.

Video shows that worker trying to douse the flames with a bucket of water before firefighters arrived.

“He tried putting it out, but the fire caught so quickly,” Torres said.

Police said 39-year-old Alex Blodgett was arrested and sources told James he has been charged with three counts of arson and one count of reckless endangerment.

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Police believe Blodgett not only started this fire, but also 13 minor trash fires in the same area, including one that happened outside of VIV in Hell’s Kitchen.

However, authorities said LOULOU had the most damage to its outdoor dining structure.

People passing by could not help but to stop and take pictures of the charred debris and furniture left behind.

“It’s just sad, very sad. Hopefully, they’ll be able to recuperate,” said Victor Campozano of Chelsea.

“Yeah, this place is bumping every day,” another person said.

“It’s very disheartening, really, really sad,” another added.

While it could take up to four weeks for repairs to be completed, Torres said he is just happy no one was hurt and that the whole building did not burn.

“We have insurance. We’re prepared,” Torres said. “So now we move on and just make it better than it was before.”

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Police said a motive is still unclear, adding Blodgett was taken to Bellevue Hospital for a psychiatric evaluation. He will be booked once released from the hospital.

Cory James