Queer bar explodes into terrifying ‘fireball’ after ‘arsonist’ douses it in gasoline

Fire at Rash Bar

Two people at an LGBT+ bar in New York were injured when a suspected arsonist doused the floor in gasoline and set it on fire.

The incident happened at Rash Bar in Bushwick, Brooklyn, on Sunday night (3 April), just before a “queer POC-centric nightlife event” was about to start.

According to eye-witness reports, at around 9:20pm a man wearing a blue surgical face mask, dark hoodie, black jeans and a backpack entered the bar and began tipping clear liquid on the floor.

When confronted he explained that he was “pouring some water out” but as the club bouncer approached the man pulled out a lighter or match and set off an explosion.

According to NBC New York, it took just seconds for the bar to erupt into a “fireball”.

Jake Sillen, who co-owns Rash with Claire Bendiner, told Pink News: “There were a few people inside, but luckily it was early enough in the night that the party hadn’t started and there wasn’t a huge crowd.”

The New York City Fire Department confirmed that two people were then sent off to nearby Wyckoff Hospital. Police say no arrests have yet been made.

Sillen explained that the two people — a DJ and a bartender — “are still in the hospital now” suffering from second-degree burns.

While Rash Bar is working closely with the New York Fire Department and police on their investigation there “has been nothing related to confirming the identity” of the perpetrator, as yet.

The attack left the bar area and floor “completely burned” and “everything is going to have to be replaced.” However, a GoFundMe page has been set up to raise funds for refurbishment, currently near $47,000 (£35,900) at the time of writing.

Footage of the incident was shared to Twitter by Gabe Liberti in which billowing smoke can be seen coming from the building.

He explained to Resident Advisor that people leaving the venue “had black smoke marks on their bodies and on their faces, like all over. And one person in particular, on their arms and especially their shoulders, had burns – burns that have basically made it so their skin was kind of peeling.”

In regards to possible homophobic motivations behind the attack, Sillen said: “It’s definitely impossible to rule that out because it is, you know, it definitely reads that way.”

He added that he didn’t “want to jump to any conclusions. I want to make sure that all the evidence that we use is true and verified.”

However, writer Janus Rose tweeted: “My friend works at Rash and saw this happen. It’s in an area of Bushwick known for queer bars and clubs and I have zero doubt this is yet another disgusting and terrifying attack on our queer spaces.”

This news comes after a similar fire happened at nearby LGBT-friendly Bossa Nova Civic Club in January, which has caused the venue close indefinitely.

Additionally, last year Brooklyn queer bar C’Mon Everybody had a brick thrown through its window.