Waiawa fires believed arson


POSTED: Saturday, September 12, 2009

Two brush fires at Waiawa Ridge yesterday are among a rash of fires officials say appeared to be the work of arsonists.

Multiple points of origin, close proximity and frequency of the fires are factors that lead officials to believe the nine Waiawa fires were intentionally set, Fire Chief Kenneth Silva said during a news briefing yesterday.

And police said there were reports of a suspicious black sport utility vehicle in the area of yesterday's brush fires by Ka Uka Boulevard and near the H-1/H-2 merge.

The Honolulu Fire Department is partnering with the Police Department to devise a plan. Silva said he recently met with interim Police Chief Paul Putzulu to discuss possible use of an arson task force similar to one that caught a boy responsible for a massive brush fire that occurred in Nanakuli in May 2005.

Meanwhile, officials urge the public to call 911 with information that can help track down arsonists responsible for the Waiawa fires and prevent future ones. Not only do they pose a danger to the community, intentionally set fires exhaust time and take resources from other emergencies such as auto accidents and medical incidents, Silva said. “;It's a strain on our resources and really does put our community at risk.”;

;[Preview]  Investigators Call Waiawa Fires Arson

Firefighters have been out to the same Waiawa Ridge area everyday since September 2nd, and the brushfires are now being called arson.

Watch ]


Since August, firefighters responded to at least nine brush fires in Waiawa Ridge, an area covered with dry, fallow sugar cane fields. Collectively, the fires destroyed more than 500 acres of brush so far. It also prompted multiple closures of part of the H-2 freeway, causing traffic congestion for motorists as firefighters contained the blazes.

Yesterday, fires by Ka Uka Boulevard and the H-1/H-2 merge, a few miles away from Seaview in Waipahu, occurred at 11:55 a.m. yesterday. Lanes on the H-2 freeway were temporarily closed for nearly two hours. The blaze near Ka Uka Boulevard destroyed an acre of brush, while the fire near Seaview charred 30 acres.

The larger brush fire started on the north side of the H-2 freeway and traveled under the highway toward residential homes on the southern part of Seaview. About 40 firefighters including Air One quickly responded before the blaze endangered residents.

“;It had the potential for doing a lot of harm,”; said Capt. Terry Seelig, spokesman for the Honolulu Fire Department.

The black SUV was spotted in the area at the time of the brush fires, but the vehicle was gone when police arrived, said Maj. Clayton Kau, spokesman for the Honolulu Police Department.

Both fires were contained at 4 p.m. Firefighters were to monitor the area for hot spots.