Arson is suspected in Maui fires
WAILUKU » A plate glass window was shattered, then a burning trash can was thrown into the building occupied by the nonprofit Hui Malama Learning Center early Sunday morning, a center official said.
Within an hour in Central Maui, blazes were burning at two other buildings: the nearby office of nonprofit Hospice Maui and the commercial building Main Street Promenade about a mile away. Luckily, damage was minimal to all three, the tenants said.
"We're very, very lucky," Hui Malama official Lauren Jardine said yesterday. "It could have been much worse."
Officials with the two nonprofit groups and Main Street Promenade said it was luck and quick help from Maui firefighters and police that prevented extensive damage to the buildings.
Police and fire officials were continuing to investigate the cause of the "suspicious" blazes, with the first being noticed at about 12:30 a.m. Sunday at Hui Malama.
"They are believed to be intentionally set," Maui Police Lt. Glenn Cuomo said yesterday.
Cuomo said an initial review indicates a link between the fires at Hui Malama and Hospice Maui.
Damage was estimated conservatively at $2,000 to $5,000 at Hui Malama, where the fire burned the carpet, door and an office machine in the front office area; and at $5,000 at the Main Street Promenade, where the blaze burned a portion of the rear wall of the building.
The estimated damage to Hospice Maui was $10,000, fire officials said.
The fires were started with trash at Hui Malama and the Main Street Promenade, and in a recycling bin at Hospice Maui, the owners said.
Hui Malama provides educational services, including classes to immigrants learning English and "at-risk" youths who are studying to receive their high school equivalency degree, or GED.
Hospice Maui provides assistance to people who are terminally ill.
Main Street Promenade has a food court on the first floor and houses a variety of tenants, including a driver education program and the Maui office of the Internal Revenue Service.