A Phoenix hookah lounge went up in smoke early Monday. Now, authorities believe that arson was the cause of the fire, AZfamily.com reports.
The Night Lover hookah lounge and pool hall at 35th Avenue and Cactus Road went up in flames about 5:30 a.m. Monday. Firefighters reportedly arrived at the scene a few minutes later and were able to contain the fire. According to witnesses, one person was seen loitering around the business shortly before the fire broke out.
"At this point, he's saying it is arson," Phoenix Fire Capt. Larry Nuñez said of his investigator. "They're getting some information from some bystanders that somebody had made some threats against the business."
Witnesses at a 24-hour restaurant in the same shopping center reported seeing a person standing in front of the business before the fire occurred. Investigators believe the suspect may have lit a couch on fire outside the lounge. "Our arson investigators are trying to follow up on that information about this individual," Nuñez said of the suspect.
If the perpetrator is apprehended, he'll probably be charged with arson of a structure or property. Under Arizona's criminal code, any person who knowingly causes a fire or explosion that damages a building can be charged with arson of a structure. If the structure was worth more than $1,000, arson is a class 4 felony in the state. If convicted, the perpetrator could spend anywhere from 1 to 3.75 years in prison.
Night Lover had only been in business for three months at the time of the fire. According to employees of Cactus RC & Hobbies, a shop next door to Night Lover, the hookah lounge's patrons gave them nothing but trouble.