On Wednesday, a 50 ft. tall Christmas tree was set on fire in Manhattan, outside of the Fox News headquarters. Craig Tamanaha was arrested and charged with criminal mischief, arson, reckless endangerment, and four more counts after he was observed climbing up the Christmas tree right before the fire broke out.
Thankfully, no injuries were caused by the fire, although it did cause a scramble as firefighters sped to put out the fire shortly after midnight. Since the tree belonged to Fox News, it should be no surprise that the news agency included news of the burning as it was happening in a live broadcast. One of the network hosts announced that the 50-foot Christmas tree was covered in flames. A live feed also highlighted the event for viewers.
The massive tree had a very short existence, having only been recently lit on the All-American Christmas special that aired on the previous Sunday. This lighting ceremony is a Christmas tradition that has been observed every year since 2019. The 2019 tree wasn’t quite as impressive, only standing about 30 ft tall.
This year’s 50-foot tree was an impressive sight, adorned with 100,000 lights and 10,000 ornaments. Fox News is planning to replace the tree promptly, intending for it to be relit and back in action by Thursday evening. It isn’t clear exactly why the tree was vandalized, however, Fox News has no intention of allowing this to interfere with their Christmas celebrations.
No one is quite sure at this time why Mr. Tamanaha decided to light the tree on fire, or whether it had anything to do with the fact that it belonged to Fox News. Police think that Mr. Tamanaha was homeless and may have been on drugs or suffering from mental illness. Police indicate that he was arrested in March for smoking a synthetic drug called K2.
Remarkably, this isn’t the only giant Christmas tree that was set on fire this week. On Monday, a 52-foot Christmas tree located in Jack London Square, in Oakland, California was also set on fire. Since an aerosol can was located near the tree, it is believed that it was an act of arson.
That tree was also set on fire in the middle of the night, in this case at about 1:30 in the morning. Luckily, it was not plugged in at the time. If it had been, it could have prompted an electrical fire that would have caused significantly more damage. The Jack London Square tree was not completely destroyed. About 15% of it was scorched. Thankfully, firefighters were able to eliminate the flames in minutes.
A large Christmas tree in Washington Park in Chicago, Illinois was also the victim of arson. The burning of this tree seems to be somebody’s Christmas tradition, as this is the third year in a row that it was set on fire.
It isn’t clear why giant Christmas trees are being targeted and burned or whether there is any connection between these events. It may be that the Fox News Christmas tree was targeted because it belonged to the network, but it is also possible that the arsonist had no idea who owned the tree.
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What is clear is that the burning of these massive public Christmas trees is putting a damper on the Christmas spirit for many of the people who work in the area. Locals have commented on how the massive trees help them to get in the Christmas spirit as they go about their day, and wonder why such destruction is being committed against them. Perhaps more security needs to be put into place in order to protect these trees and prevent a fire from getting out of control and causing greater damage.