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Monday, August 8, 2005

art
JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARBULLETIN.COM
Firefighters worked yesterday morning to put out the remnants of a brush fire that charred land just yards away from homes partially visible behind trees in Honokai Hale.



Arrested woman linked
to Leeward brush fire

An explosive that fits a witness’s
description is found in her car

A 27-year-old woman described as a "person of interest" in connection with a large brush fire on Saturday has been arrested on suspicion of being in possession of a prohibited explosive device.

The woman was arrested at 10:30 a.m. yesterday at Kahe Point Beach Park.

Police said they discovered a beer bottle filled with an unidentified liquid, and a wick protruding from the top of the bottle, in the vehicle driven by the woman. An empty gas container was also found in the vehicle.

A witness reported seeing a driver in a suspicious vehicle in the proximity of a 400-acre brush fire on the Leeward Coast on Saturday, on Farrington Highway and Laaloa Street near Honokai Hale. A driver and the vehicle fitting the witness's description was spotted yesterday by police.

Police said the 27-year-old woman was arrested for a warrant and suspicion of possession of a deadly weapon, a misdemeanor. The offense was later upgraded to possession of a prohibited explosive, a Class C felony punishable by up to five years in prison.

Detectives from the Honolulu Police Department's Criminal Investigation Division are continuing their investigation.

Saturday's brush fire started about 3:30 p.m., forcing the evacuation of about 150 residents at Fairway townhomes at the Ko Olina resort. Winds pushed the flames about a half-mile from Kalaeloa Boulevard toward Ko Olina. The fire was contained at 10:45 p.m., Honolulu Fire Department Capt. Kenison Tejada said.

Firefighters returned to the Leeward Coast yesterday to extinguish hot spots under rocks and in tree trunks. The bright yellow uniforms of firefighters were covered in soot as they worked under the hot sun, smoke rising from flare-ups. Equipped with hoses that snaked over the blackened ground, firefighters saturated trees and brush with water.

Nancy Hess, who has lived on Laaloa Street in Honokai Hale for more than 40 years, told the Star-Bulletin she was hoping for an arrest.

"We don't want anything to happen to our community. It was frightening," she said of the fire that threatened homes, and before knowing an arrest had been made.

"We were scared," 15-year-old Laura Aipoalani, who lives at the end of Laaloa Street, said about the fire.

Aipoalani said she was having a barbecue with her family in her carport when she saw smoke rising behind the homes on the Diamond Head side of Laaloa Street.

"It was coming fast," she said.

Aipoalani said the person responsible for setting the fire is endangering the homes and lives of residents in Honokai Hale.

"I think that it is so stupid. This is our home," she said.

More than 600 brush fires have occurred on Oahu so far this year, significantly more than the number of brush fires that occurred at the same time last year, HFD Capt. Emmit Kane said.

Police have arrested three teenagers for different brush fires that occurred earlier this year in Nanakuli, Barbers Point and Maili. The suspects in those incidents either turned themselves in to police or were identified by witnesses.



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