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Nail salon owner charged with arson, murder in deaths of firefighters

A Kansas City, Missouri, nail salon owner has been charged with arson and murder in the deaths of two firefighters killed when a wall collapsed while they were fighting a blaze earlier in October, prosecutors said on Tuesday.

Thu Hong Nguyen, 43, was accused of setting the fire in a storage room in the LN Salon and Spa using flammable liquid, according to charges filed by Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker.

The charges of arson and two counts of second degree murder followed an investigation led by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Conviction on each charge would carry a sentence of up to 30 years in prison.

Nguyen was the last person to leave the salon about 10 minutes before a fire was reported in the building on Oct. 12, according to a probable cause statement filed by an ATF fire investigator.

The fire expanded to consume a series of small first-floor businesses and second floor apartments. An outside wall collapsed about 40 minutes after it began, killing firefighters Larry Leggio and John Mesh. Two other firefighters were injured.

Nguyen told investigators she had received insurance payments on two previous fires, including one in an apartment above the salon, the ATF court statement said.

Nguyen was being held on a $2 million bond. Court records did not list an attorney for her. 

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