BRIGHTON BEACH - A fire that left several Brighton Beach families without a house and destroyed a popular restaurant Tuesday has some pointing the finger at the homeless.

Officials say the fire started before 4 a.m. on the boardwalk at 3152 Brighton 6th St. Firefighters found the Winter Garden restaurant engulfed and second-floor tenants fleeing for safety. Officials say heavy flames under the building's scaffolding had to be extinguished to keep the structure secure.

In 2003, neighboring Tatiana restaurant went up in flames. The manager blames homeless people who may be setting fires under the boardwalk to keep warm. The cause of Tuesday's fire, which is being called suspicious, is under investigation.