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Quick-Thinking Pet Store Owner Douses Blaze After Queens Molotov Cocktail Attack

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A Queens pet store became the target of a firebomb attack, but the alleged arsonist made an embarrassing mistake.

As CBS2's Tony Aiello reported, a chair was charred in the attack on the Grand Avenue Pet Shop in Maspeth, but the birds didn't burn, and the people fast asleep upstairs were safe.

"It would have just incinerated quick! This would have been a big, big, big fire!" store owner Jose Cardona said.

The blaze would have been massive if not for Cardona, who stayed late Sunday to care for a cat as it delivered three kittens.

He was able to grab a hose after a man wearing hoodie threw a Molotov cocktail at the door of the pet shop.

"I didn't panic. I can't panic," Cardona said.

He quickly doused the flames, and prevented major damage to the Maspeth landmark where people who raise and race pigeons, including Mike Tyson, have gathered for decades.

"It's just crazy. I don't understand why people want to hurt somebody else or put somebody else out of business," building owner Albert Sima said.

In addition to surveillance footage of a man in a hoodie, investigators have other evidence to work with, including a Colt 45 bottle that was packed with a flammable liquid.

The arsonist is likely on the thin side, as he squeezed through a narrow gap in the gate to access the property, Aiello reported.

Cardona said surveillance video shows the suspect catching fire.

"His clothes get kind of caught on fire," Cardona said, "So he's patting his clothes down, and then after that, he picked up the thing and threw it through the door."

The arsonist made like a bird and flew the scene, but investigators were hot on his trail late Tuesday.

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