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Sources: Sailor under investigation for arson in USS Bonhomme Richard ship fire

USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) Fire
Posted at 3:39 PM, Aug 26, 2020

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- A Navy sailor is under investigation in connection with the fire that caused extensive damage to the USS Bonhomme Richard at Naval Base San Diego, sources told ABC 10News.

Multiple sources with close ties to Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) told ABC 10News that investigators determined the July 12 fire may have been set intentionally. Investigators identified a sailor as an arson suspect in their probe, sources said.

The sources added multiple search warrants were executed at the sailor’s home and property. The sailor’s name and rank were not disclosed.

On Tuesday, a Navy spokesperson told ABC 10News that NCIS requested help from the National Response Team for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) because the agency provides resources and expertise on complex, large-scale incidents like the massive ship fire.

A Navy spokesperson on Wednesday declined to confirm what sources told ABC 10News regarding the suspect and now-arson investigation.

However, the spokesperson said, “The investigations are ongoing and there is nothing new to announce on their current status or findings.”

The fire erupted on the morning of July 12 in a storage area aboard the vessel, sending thick smoke over the San Diego Bay that was visible for miles.

Over the course of four days, thousands of helicopter water drops were conducted to aid firefighters on the ground.

Dozens of sailors and firefighters sustained minor injuries during the firefighting effort.

By the fourth day of the battle, crews were able to knock down all known fires aboard the ship.

It remains unclear if the damage caused by the fire will prevent the USS Bonhomme Richard from sailing again.