POSTED: Monday, November 23, 2009

Stove caused fire that killed 3 dogs

A stove left on caused a two-alarm fire Saturday that destroyed a single-family Punchbowl home and killed three dogs, fire investigators said yesterday.

The fire, which started about 5:45 p.m. at 1475 Punchbowl St., caused $425,000 damage and was put out in about an hour, said Capt. Robert Main, fire department spokesman.

A woman who lived in the house was treated at a hospital for hyperventilation, he said. Three Chihuahuas also died in the fire, Main said.

Police closed Punchbowl Street mauka of Vineyard Boulevard and the Waianae-bound Vineyard off-ramp while firefighters battled the blaze.

The American Red Cross is helping the family of five who lived in the house.


Judge to rule on fitness of spy suspect

A judge is expected to rule in the next two weeks on whether a Maui man accused of spying for China is mentally fit to stand trial.

The competency hearing in federal court ended Friday with the prosecutor saying the defendant is difficult to work with and makes wild exaggerations, but is legally able to be tried.

However, lawyers for Noshir Gowadia contend their client has a mental defect that renders him unable to assist in his defense.

Expert witnesses for both sides agree Gowadia suffers from narcissistic personality disorder. They disagree on whether it is so severe that he cannot stand trial.

Gowadia was arrested in 2005 on suspicion of selling cruise missile secrets. He has pleaded not guilty to 21 counts of conspiracy, money-laundering and falsifying tax returns.


Legislators to review stimulus spending

A joint panel of the state Legislature will examine the use of federal economic stimulus money in the state departments of health and human services.

The Federal Economic Stimulus Program Oversight Commission will meet tomorrow at the state Capitol to hear an overview of the spending and to take public comment.

The commission is headed by Rep. Michael Magaoay (D, Schofield-Kahuku) and Sen. Shan Tsutsui (D, Wailuku-Kahului).

The stimulus money was part of hundreds of millions of dollars the federal government distributed to states earlier this year in an effort to moderate one of the worst recessions in decades.


High surf expected through weekend

A high surf advisory remains in effect today for north-facing shores on Oahu, Kauai, Maui and Molokai and the west side of Kauai.

Wave faces are predicted to reach 15 to 20 feet on Oahu, Kauai and Niihau, while Molokai and Maui will see 12- to 18-foot waves.

Surf heights are expected to decrease tomorrow. But another swell is predicted to arrive Wednesday, followed by a third swell during the weekend.

The surf was generated by a series of storms in the northwest Pacific Ocean.


Dentist donates $20,000 to libraries

Lawrence Tseu, a prominent Honolulu dentist and philanthropist, has pledged $20,000 toward the effort to keep Hawaii's libraries open.

Tseu and members of the Organization of Chinese American Women Hawaii Chapter presented a $1,000 donation at the Board of Education meeting Thursday night, the library system said.

Tseu, honorary chairman of the organization's fundraising, then made a “;surprise announcement”; and personally pledged $20,000 to add to the donation amount.

“;We are extremely grateful to Dr. Tseu for his generosity,”; state Librarian Richard Burns said in a news release. “;We hope that others will be inspired by Dr. Tseu's spontaneous act of kindness and will help to support Hawaii's public libraries in these challenging economic times.”;

As of Friday, the Keep Your Library Open campaign has raised $110,012. A related Keep the Doors Open campaign by the Friends of the Library of Hawaii has brought in $97,799 as of Thursday.

The fundraising campaigns have a goal of $3 million.