The FDNY responded to reports of a rubbish fire outside 1211 Ave of the Americas at about 12:15 a.m. on Wednesday.
When firefighters arrived at the scene near the corner of 48th Street and Sixth Avenue a Christmas tree was engulfed in flames. Firefighters quickly put out the fire.
Security for the cable news network noticed the man climbing the tree in FOX News Square and alerted the NYPD. The suspect ran off when the cops arrived. He was taken into custody without incident, the NYPD said.
Craig Tamanaha, 49, was charged with criminal mischief, reckless endangerment, arson, endangering others, criminal trespass, criminal tampering, and disorderly conduct.
A lighter was found on Tamanaha, police added. It was not clear if any accelerant was used to set the fire.
An investigation by police was underway. Tamanaha was known to police following a series of low-level arrests. He also had a short rap sheet in Texas, said NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea during a morning news program. There were no reports of injuries.
"We are very grateful to the FDNY which quickly mobilized to extinguish the fire and the NYPD which apprehended the individual on site, who has since been charged with arson, among multiple other crimes," said FOX News Media CEO Suzanne Scott in a statement issued company-wide.
The red, white, and blue tree was lit Sunday night as part of an annual holiday celebration that aired on the FNC. The FOX News Media All-American Christmas tree was 50 feet high and was adorned with about 10,000 glass ornaments and approximately 100,000 lights. It took more than 21 hours to assemble.
"We will not let this deliberate and brazen act of cowardice deter us. We are in the process of rebuilding and installing a new tree as a message that there can be peace, light and joy even during a dark moment like this," said Scott.
A lighting ceremony for the new tree was also being planned.
In California, an arson investigation was underway after a large Christmas tree at Jack London Square in Oakland was set on fire Monday. Vandals apparently used an accelerant with a spray can to light the 52-foot tree. The iconic tree was located not far from Fox-owned TV station KTVU.