THE BRONX - Fire officials say two men were arrested in connection to a December fire that caused $3.5 million in damage to a Bronx shopping center.

Mohammed Abdul Quadir, the owner of the American Diner, is waiting to be arraigned and Christopher Gooding was charged with arson, reckless endangerment and criminal mischief, authorities say. Fire marshals say Quadir was heavily in debt and hired Gooding to start the fire on Bainbridge Avenue Dec. 21.

It took 160 firefighters hours to extinguish the flames, which burned three stores to the ground and caused severe water damage to a nearby bank.