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ATF Investigator: Bonhomme Richard Fire Deliberately Set, No Direct Physical Evidence Points to Accused Sailor

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SAN DIEGO – The fire that eventually destroyed much of the former USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6) likely was deliberately set to ignite cardboard boxes in a stowage area packed with assorted items that fire investigators ruled out as the ignition source, a federal fire investigator testified in a Navy court Monday.

Matthew Beals, a special agent with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, told a Navy judge that he concluded in the ATF investigation that the fire was deliberately set by Seaman Apprentice Ryan Mays, a deck crewman allegedly spotted in the area before the fire broke out, with a lighter that was found at some point in Mays’ possession.

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