FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — Authorities are investigating the death of a homeless man who they found on fire in a vacant lot.
Flagstaff police recognized the man as Ben Iravani, 66, because of previous interactions with him, said Sgt. Cory Runge. Iravani had been in Flagstaff for a few years but is not originally from the United States, Runge said.
Runge was unsure where Iravani was born. Police have not been able to reach any of his relatives, Runge said Wednesday.
Police responded to a call of a fire in a lot between a city park and businesses on Monday afternoon and saw Iravani consumed by flames. An officer grabbed a fire extinguisher from his vehicle and put out the fire, Runge said.
The Coconino County medical examiner's office is working to determine the cause of death.
Detectives were interviewing witnesses and employees in nearby business to try to learn exactly how Iravani caught on fire. His death is being investigated as a homicide, a standard practice when foul play hasn't been ruled out, Runge said.
Dale Schnell, the general manager of Starlite Lanes, said he walked outside after a sales representative texted him to ask why multiple police vehicles were behind the bowling alley. "We were shocked," he said.
Schnell said he gave the police video surveillance from his business that covered three hours Monday afternoon.
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