JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARBULLETIN.COM
Department of Transportation and Hawaiian Electric Co. crews worked on a bridge in Makaha yesterday after an intentionally set fire burned the bridge and left it unstable. The road toward Makaha Beach will remain closed until it is fully repaired. A detour through Makaha Valley Road is the only way in and out of the area.
Arson confirmed in bridge fire
A portion of highway through Makaha will be closed indefinitely
The fire that closed a Makaha bridge yesterday and forced motorists to detour through residential areas was intentionally set, according to fire officials.
Honolulu Fire Department spokesman Capt. Kenison Tejada said it handed the case to Honolulu police, which is investigating the fire as first-degree arson.
The fire temporarily knocked out power to about a dozen homes and might have contributed to a water-main break nearby.
The portion of Farrington Highway near Kili Drive was closed soon after the fire was reported at 4:40 a.m. and is expected to remain closed today for further inspection. Police do not know when the road will be reopened.
"We're fortunate there was a detour there," said Scott Ishikawa, of the Department of Transportation. "Traffic wasn't so bad because of that."
Motorists have been rerouted through Makaha Valley Road, Kili Drive and back onto Farrington Highway.
Some residents complained about the noise from passing vehicles, and some said they will be more cautious when they are outside their homes.
"I got to make sure I keep my baby with me all the time because he might run in the street and then more worse," said Makaha Valley Road resident Marge Dela Cruz. "I hope they open that road soon."
Only cars and lightweight trucks will be allowed to cross the 69-year-old wooden bridge once it reopens. Buses and heavy vehicles will be rerouted.
By yesterday afternoon, electricity was flowing again to a dozen homes. Hawaiian Electric Co. replaced the original power line that the fire burned with a new one, restoring power by 12:15 p.m.
"At least it was daytime, so we didn't need flashlights or anything," said Joseph Dudley, of Makaha. "It was just really hot because our fans never worked."
Adding to Makaha's troubles, a water main broke at 5:42 a.m., possibly because of the added pressure from firefighter hoses, Board of Water Supply spokeswoman Su Shin said.
More than 160 residents had their water service restored by 2:30 p.m. once the 8-inch water main rupture along Farrington Highway was repaired, she said.
"We had to wait for HECO to move out of the area until we could start repairing," Shin said. "It was good that our crews worked really fast."
Residents made use of mobile water wagons that the board provided to affected neighborhoods.
"I was in the middle of cooking lunch," said Francis Lum, who needed water for her saimin. "I ran out of my house with the pot when I saw the truck pass by."