Police have arrested a 42-year-old Webster man on several charges stemming from a three-alarm fire that tore through a popular local Chinese restaurant on March 18, authorities said Tuesday.
In a statement, Webster police confirmed the arrest of Joel Batista-Viera and said he faced arraignment Tuesday in Dudley District Court.
He is charged with two counts of larceny from a building, two counts of breaking and entering at night with intent to commit a felony, two counts of vandalizing property, one count of attempting to commit a crime, one count of burning a building, and one count of attempting to burn a building, according to legal filings.
It wasn’t immediately clear if Batista-Viera had hired a lawyer.
Webster police identified the affected business as Wind Tiki Restaurant located at 154 Thompson Road. Webster fire officials have said previously that crews responded to the three-alarm blaze in the predawn hours of March 18.
The Fire Department posted photos to Facebook of smoke and heavy flames shooting from the roof of the establishment.
“Crews are still heavily engaged battling a large amount of fire throughout the building,” fire officials had posted to Facebook at 3:29 a.m. on the morning of the fire.
The restaurant, meanwhile, has launched an online fundraising drive at GoFundMe to support employees rendered jobless by the blaze. The appeal had raised over $16,000 as of Tuesday morning.
“While several generations of Webster area residents have countless memories of dining, sharing drinks and celebrating at Wind Tiki, many of these memories were made possible by the hostesses, bar tenders, waitstaff and other employees who shared in their celebrations and life events,” the fundraising appeal said. “Let’s of course not forget the cooks who provided such delectable food. Sadly, these special individuals are now out of work, some after spending over 30 years with Wind Tiki.”
This is a breaking news story that’ll be updated when more information is released.
Travis Andersen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.