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Investigation Continues into National Guard Fire

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June 23, 2005 – An investigation continues into a fire that destroyed three V.I. National Guard Humvees on Wednesday night. Two other similar vehicles were damaged.
The fire occurred on vehicles parked at the motor pool at the Lt. Col. Lionel A. Jackson Armory complex in Estate Bethlehem on St. Croix. Security personnel found the vehicles engulfed in flames and called 911. (See "Fire Destroys National Guard Vehicles")
According to a press release issued Wednesday night by Karen Williams, V.I. National Guard pubic affairs officer, the Humvees were "engulfed by flames during a fierce lighting storm." Police and fire personnel arrived at the scene about 8 p.m.
On Thursday, Williams said officials from the fire and police departments were back at the scene of the fire conducting follow-up investigations. "It's standard procedure," Williams said.
The fire did not affect any other structures, but the loss of the vehicles was substantial. "The Humvees have an estimated cost of $90,000 to $100,000 dollars each, she said, adding that the guard had been accumulating the fleet of vehicles over a "few years."
Deputy Fire Chief Marcellino Ventura Sr. said Thursday he didn't have any answers to why the vehicles caught on fire. "We are not endorsing that it was lighting that caused the fire," Ventura said. "The investigation is still in progress."
Ventura said in addition to the local arson prevention team, some federal agencies are involved in the investigation, although he declined to specifically name them. Ventura also declined to speculate when the investigation would conclude, saying there was "no time frame" to wrapping up the investigation.

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