Fox News Replaces Christmas Tree That Went Up in Flames

Fox News on Thursday replaced a 50-foot-tall artificial Christmas tree that was set on fire a day earlier outside its headquarters in New York City.

A man was arrested on Wednesday and charged with setting fire to the original tree in the early hours. The police said that security at the headquarters had observed the man, Craig Tamanaha, climbing the structure before the fire broke out around 12:15 a.m.

Mr. Tamanaha, 49, was arrested and later charged with seven counts including criminal mischief, reckless endangerment and arson.

The fire did not cause any injuries, and the police said on Wednesday that the authorities were still investigating the cause. But the spectacle surprised onlookers, including a network host who announced the fire in a live broadcast.

“This is the Fox Square in New York, outside of Fox headquarters,” the host, Shannon Bream, told viewers shortly after midnight. “It appears that our giant Christmas tree there, just a couple of minutes ago, was completely engulfed in flames.”

A few minutes later, as a live feed showed smoke billowing above the tree, Ms. Bream said that the fire seemed to have been put out. “But we’re going to monitor the situation to try to figure out what sparked this whole thing,” she added.

The tree had been ceremonially lit in the network’s “All-American” Christmas special, which was broadcast on Sunday.

In a companywide memo on Wednesday that was provided by Fox News Media, Suzanne Scott, the company’s chief executive, condemned the vandalism and said that the tree would be replaced.

“We will not let this deliberate and brazen act of cowardice deter us,” Ms. Scott said. “We are in the process of rebuilding and installing a new tree as a message that there can be peace, light and joy even during a dark moment like this.”

The police said they believed that Mr. Tamanaha was homeless, and that they were investigating whether drugs or mental illness had played a factor. He was last arrested in March for smoking the synthetic drug known as K2, the police said.

It was not immediately clear whether Mr. Tamanaha had retained a lawyer.

Fox reported this month that the original tree, on the Avenue of the Americas in Manhattan, was 50 feet tall and had been decorated with 10,000 ornaments and 100,000 lights. The lighting ceremony last weekend was part of an annual tradition that began in 2019. The tree and its replacement were both supplied by American Christmas, a company based in Mount Vernon, N.Y.

“This holiday season serves as a reminder that at the end of the day, there will always be more that unites us than divides us,” Dana Perino, a Fox News host and a former press secretary for President George W. Bush, said during a live tree-lighting ceremony at the site on Thursday.

Ms. Perino thanked the New York Police Department and the Fire Department for responding to the fire.

Ms. Perino added that Fox News Media and the Fox Corporation had both made a $100,000 donation to Answer the Call, a nonprofit organization that provides financial assistance to the families of officers from the N.Y.P.D., the F.D.N.Y. and other cities agencies who have been killed in the line of duty.

Officials in Oakland, Calif., said this week that they were investigating an episode in which at least one person set fire to a 52-foot Christmas tree in Jack London Square early Monday. An aerosol can was found near the tree after the fire was extinguished, The Sacramento Bee reported.

The authorities in Chicago are also investigating the apparent arson this month of a Christmas tree at the corner of Garfield Boulevard and Martin Luther King Drive, The Chicago Tribune reported.

The tree, installed as part of local charity’s project to light up the city’s South Side for the holidays, is the third to be vandalized at the site in three years. Two of the cases are suspected arsons. A police spokesman told the Tribune this week that a gasoline canister had been found at the scene after the latest fire.

Troy Closson and Neil Vigdor contributed reporting.