Former Apple Farm store owner says no one stood financial gain from fire
Victor, N.Y. (13WHAM) - The former owner of the store at The Apple Farm says he doesn't want to believe that his ex-wife burned his business to the ground.
"I can’t say anything whether I suspect her not. She said she didn’t do it," said Munir Bahai. "And I have no other choice but to believe her."
Bahai started The Apple Farm in 1976. The store burned down last November. Police have accused his ex-wife, Karen, of starting the fire.
While Bahai doesn't buy that his wife started the fire, he still remembers her behavior the night of the fire.
"When she woke me up, the place was on fire, the firetruck was here already, so it was kind of late," said Bahai. "I went down in my bathrobe and she was fully dressed. It didn’t make sense."
Bahai said his ex-wife's story didn't add up.
"'It was a small fire,' that’s what she said," recalled Bahai. "So she went down to see what was going on without waking me up. I said, ‘Why didn’t you wake me up?’ She said, ‘Well, I thought I could put it out myself, with a blanket like they do in the movies.’ I said, ‘Did you take a blanket?’ She said, ‘No.’"
Bahai says no one, not even his ex-wife, would have benefited financially from the fire. Bahai had just sold the business to his son, and Karen had no stake in the farm.
"She wouldn’t have benefited, nobody would’ve with the total loss," said Bahai. "Especially before our busy season, just before Thanksgiving."
Bahai said his insurance will only cover about a third of the cost to totally rebuild the structure with all the other equipment that was lost in the fire.
Bahai did say the couple's divorce was nearly final at the time of the fire. He did admit that she did try to get a piece of the farm in the settlement, but that was blocked.
He says the decision to split up was mutual.
"We both agreed to part. She wasn’t happy with me, and I just said, ‘OK, if that’s what you want, we’ll go through a divorce,’ and that was it," said Bahai.
Bahai's son, Bejan, tells 13WHAM the donations the family received from online and around the community totaled nearly $18,000. The family says that money was used immediately on getting a newer, smaller store ready as soon as possible.
"(Bejan) put in new doors, new windows. We had to buy all new equipment, we had nothing left, and this year we lost a lot business," said Bahai.