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Nail Salon Owner Charged With Arson In Deadly Independence Avenue Fire

Laura Ziegler
KCUR 89.3 file photo

The deadly Independence Avenue blaze that killed two Kansas City firefighters earlier this month was intentionally set, investigators announced Tuesday.

“Late last night, ATF agents and members of the Kansas City Bomb and Arson Unit arrested a suspect who remains in custody at this hour,” said Gregory Gant, Special Agent in Charge for the Kansas City Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Thu Hong Nguyen, 43, told investigators she received insurance payouts from other recent fires.

On October 12, Nguyen was the last person to leave the LN Salon and Spa, which she owns and where investigators determined the fire started.

Two firefighters, Larry Leggio and John Mesh, died when the burning building collapsed on top of them. Two other firefighters were treated for injuries sustained in the collapse and later released.

Nguyen is charged with one count of first degree arson and two counts of second degree murder. She is being held on $2 million bond.

Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker requested privacy for the families of Leggio and Mesh.

“They are really struggling with the news they received today,” Baker said.

According to the probable cause statement, Nguyen purchased four bottles of acetone and four bottles of isopropyl alcohol on the day of the fire, which was started from ignitable liquid.

Investigators have spent the last two weeks combing through the rubble.

“This fire was very difficult for all of us,” said Gant. “Regardless of the badge on our uniforms, those who dedicate their lives to protecting the public form a brotherhood that bonds all of us.”

Elle Moxley is a reporter for KCUR. You can reach her on Twitter @ellemoxley.

Elle Moxley covered education for KCUR.
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