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Arson suspected in deadly fire in Costa Rica

June 13, 2011

Four people died Friday in a Pacific coast community of Costa Rica when a cargo container fitted out as a dwelling caught fire, authorities said.

One of the firefighters called to the emergency, Jonathan Sandi, said on television that the doors of the container were closed on the outside with padlocks and chains, so they had to force their way in to put out the fire.

Authorities are weighing the hypothesis that this was a “settling of scores,” in which criminals shut four people inside and then set fire to the container, where household goods and other belongings were also found.

The incident occurred on a ranch at the seaside community of Herradura, some 150 kilometers (93 miles) southwest of San Jose, where at least two of the victims were supposedly hired to guard the property.

Authorities have not officially announced the identities of the fatalities, but media outlets have said that there were two brothers ages 22 and 32, a 14-year-old girl and a fourth person.

Authorities are investigating the case with forensic scientists, detectives and dogs to determine whether this was a case of arson.

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