Man charged with setting New York spa on fire with victim trapped inside

NEW YORK — The Department of Justice has federally charged a man for allegedly lighting a Manhattan spa on fire with someone inside earlier this year.

According to prosecutors, Mario Lucas, 46, entered a Lower East Side spa in June and allegedly poured a flammable liquid around the lobby before trying to flee.

Before igniting the fire, prosecutors allege that he was talking to a 60-year-old unidentified worker inside. He reportedly waited for the woman to leave the room before he opened his backpack and pulled out a white plastic bag “that appeared to contain a plastic container full of liquid,” according to a release from the Department of Justice.

According to WPIX, Lucas then allegedly poured that liquid around the lobby of the spa and lit the liquid on fire. He reportedly tried to open the front door, but the door would not open.

Minutes later, a crowd gathered around the spa, and a Good Samaritan used a bar stool to force open the door. Lucas ran out the door and fled the scene, and one minute later, the worker exited the spa, according to the release.

Lucas, who was apprehended blocks away from the fire, and the worker were both hospitalized for burns.

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On Friday, Damian Williams, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, described the incident as “horrific.”

“As alleged, Mario Lucas committed a horrific arson of a Manhattan business with a victim trapped inside. Luckily, the victim survived. As reflected by the charge today, this Office is committed to holding individuals who would commit violence in this City accountable for their crimes,” Williams said in the release.

Lucas, if found guilty, faces a mandatory minimum sentence of seven years and a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison.