KITTERY, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- The U.S. Navy says the fire that caused some $400 million in damage to a submarine at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard was deliberately set. Investigators have arrested a 24-year old shipyard worker named Casey James Fury and charged him with two counts of arson.
The arrest actually happened Friday evening at the shipyard, but the U.S. Attorney didn't announce it until today. Prior to the arrest, there had been no hint from authorities that they suspected arson. In fact, the May 23 fire had been officially blamed on a vacuum cleaner.
The fire on board the U.S.S. Miami caused extensive damage to the submarine, and involved a massive effort by crew members, the Shipyard fire department and volunteers from a number of Maine and New Hampshire fire departments. On June 16 there was a second, much smaller in the wooden cradle underneath the submarine. That fire reportedly caused minimal damage.
Investigators now say both those fires were arson. Casey Fury worked as a painter and sandblaster at the yard, and, according to court documents filed by the Naval Criminal Investigation Service (NCIS) Fury was working in the yard at the time of both fires. According to the NCIS affidavit, after multiple interviews with investigators, Fury admitted setting the second, smaller fire. Then, after agreeing to take a polygraph exam, agents say he told the examiner he had set the first fire. In each case, according to an affidavit, Fury told agents he was anxious and agitated at the time and set the fires because he wanted to go home from work. The affidavit also indicated Fury said he was taking a variety of medications for treatment of anxiety and depression.
Fury made his initial court appearance before federal magistrate Monday afternoon. No new details were provided at that time. Fury will continue to be held in jail until a second hearing on August 1, at which time there will be both a bail hearing and a probable cause hearing.
Paul O'Connor, president of the shipyards Metal trades Council, said the arrest of a fellow worker for setting the fire was very upsetting.'"We're a family here," and said:"that one person took upon himself through irrational thought to take actions that jeopardized the lives of hundreds of men and 3 women. Shipyarders and first responders. That is unforgivable."