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Flushing men charged with arson in Huntington fire

Suffolk County Police have arrested two Queens brothers,

Suffolk County Police have arrested two Queens brothers, Robert Khaimov, left, and Natan Khaimov on arson charges that they set their bagel store on fire Sept. 9. A volunteer Huntington Manor firefighter died of natural causes at the scene. Credit: SCPD

Two Flushing brothers who police said burned their own Huntington Station bagel store - a blaze where a volunteer firefighter died - were being held on $250,000 cash bail after being arraigned on an arson charge.

Robert Khaimov, 28, of 158-17 78th Rd., and his brother, Natan Khaimov, 22, of 153-26 77th Ave., were each charged with second-degree arson in the Sept. 9 fire at Über Cafe at 334 Depot Rd. in Huntington Station. They pleaded not guilty.

They were arrested Friday, more than three months after the fire in which a volunteer firefighter died of natural causes after collapsing at the scene.

Richard Holst, a volunteer from the Huntington Manor Fire Department who also served as the department chaplain, was not involved in putting out the fire, but he unexpectedly collapsed while helping coordinate the efforts.

Det. Sgt. Edward Fitzgerald of the arson/bomb squad of the Suffolk County Police Department said no new charges were expected, but that the decision to upgrade charges was up to Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota.

Fitzgerald declined to say why he thought the men burned the store or what led to the arrests.

Robert Clifford, a Spota spokesman, said he knows of no plans to increase the charges.

The pair was arraigned at First District Court in Central Islip before District Court Judge Patricia M. Filiberto. They appeared without attorneys and are due back in court Monday, Clifford said.

At Holst's wake, those in attendance recalled the 60-year-old volunteer as a dedicated 31-year veteran who had served as chaplain for 25 years.

"He lived his life as a chaplain," department associate chaplain Edward Billia said then. "He believed in it."

A retired National Grid employee, Holst also was a Navy veteran of the Vietnam War.

"He really is sorely missed," said Mark Sciallo, chief of the Huntington Manor Fire Department. "We do feel it especially now around the holidays. He was our chaplain and there are lot of events that have transpired since his passing. He really was a true asset to our department."

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