GARY T. KUBOTA / GKUBOTA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Olinda Aiwohi says she was heartbroken by a fire that partially destroyed a playground in the Hawaiian homestead community of Paukukalo last weekend.
Playground fire wracks community
WAILUKU » Olinda Aiwohi cried when she heard the children's playground at Paukukalo Park had been destroyed in a fire.
"I was just heartbroken," said Aiwohi, president of the Paukukalo Hawaiian Homestead Community Association.
She said she and a couple of board members took about a year and a half to gather contributions and volunteer help to erect the playground gear, which included four slides.
"It cost $90,000 in just materials," she said.
The children's playground, which burned down Saturday morning, was the only outdoor recreational area designed for the more than 100 children who live in the Hawaiian homestead community, which has 191 homes.
"We have a lot of children. That's why we built it," said Aiwohi.
Aiwohi said the playground was built about 10 years ago, with contributions from the community, state Office of Hawaiian Affairs, state Department of Hawaiian Homes Lands, the Maui Contractors Association and Maui County.
The playground recently received some improvements, including the addition of a loose rubberized ground filler.
Aiwohi said people heard fireworks and saw some children running from the playground shortly after the fire started at about 9:30 a.m. Saturday.
The plastic playground materials and rubber ground filler burned quickly, she said.
The cause of the fire was under investigation.
Aiwohi said the playground has been a center for recreation for her grandchildren.
Her oldest grandchild, Taylissa Joaquin, played there all the time. "She didn't want to go home," Aiwohi said.
County Parks Director Tamara Horcajo said she plans to meet with the community and work out a plan for moving forward with a new playground.
Aiwohi said she hopes people will support the reconstruction of the playground soon. "I just hope it doesn't take 10 years," she said.