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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Arson investigators and Miami Gardens police are searching for a Christmas Eve firestarter.

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A Miami Gardens restaurant was destroyed in an intentionally set fire early Wednesday morning.

A Miami-Dade fire investigator said the arsonist threw two Molotov cocktails through the front window of Shorty’s Cafeteria on 167th Street and 41st Avenue. According to the investigator, someone put cloth into two Budweiser beer bottles, filled them with flammable liquid and set the place on fire.

“We found two separate fires at the base of each fire was a beer bottle that was burned up which leads us to believe it was thrown inside as an incendiary device,” said Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Lt. Doug Keller.

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Police initially responded to the restaurant for a possible burglary call after the alarm went off at around 3:00 a.m.

When they arrived, officers saw smoke pouring out of the family run restaurant.

Firefighters had a hard time getting into the restaurant to extinguish the fire because of metal security bars on the window.

“I’m just in shock, I’m just in shock,” said Michelle Feliciano.

“It’s the best place I’ve ever been to and it made my heart broken,” said 9-year-old Kristy Cruz, who instead of looking forward to opening the presents Santa brought her, was in tears at the fire scene. “I feel sad because everybody that worked here, they worked hard and they did their best.”

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The family that owns the restaurant said it is inoperable and they don’t have insurance. They suspect the arson may have been retaliation for a fight at the restaurant on Tuesday.

“There was an altercation where they suspected that there was some drugs being sold or something so they just went outside threw them out. They got upset. Words exchanged. A scuffle happened and everybody left,” said Feliciano.

A few hours later the Peruvian restaurant, which had only been open for five months, was gone.

“It’s sad, so much money lost, so many hours of hard work,” said Ana Mejia.

The fire left nearly a dozen employees out of work for the holidays.

“There’s a lot of people that are gonna be left without any money especially for this holiday,” said Meija. “They all depended on this job.”

The restaurant owners said they don’t know if they will be able to rebuild. Police still looking for person or people responsible.

Cruz hopes they find the arsonist, because even at 9 years old, she knows the difference between right and wrong.

“I want to see happen that they go to jail and they stay there until they learn a lesson.”

Anyone with information is urged to call Crime Stoppers (305) 471-TIPS.

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