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StarBulletin.com

Mililani fire intentionally set


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POSTED: Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas morning was filled with gloom for 23-year-old Zachery Bickett and his four roommates after their Mililani home was destroyed by a fire that was deliberately set.

“;Christmas morning. Of all mornings, Christmas morning,”; said Bickett, exasperated as he stood across the street from his home, wiping off soot from his arms with a rag. “;It's just not a good day.”;

They celebrated Christmas Eve at home at 95-604 Wehewehe Loop and then decided to head to Waikiki. A friend, who does not live at the house, stayed behind because he was intoxicated.

Later, Bickett and his roommates had just left a club on Kuhio Avenue when they got a call from their neighbor at about 3:30 a.m., alerting them that their house was on fire.

Bickett said his friend, who was asleep at the house, woke up to crackling sounds and the smell of smoke. As he searched for a fire extinguisher, the living room couch became fully engulfed in flames, and the fire was scorching the walls, Bickett said. The friend escaped unharmed. He and a neighbor then grabbed garden hoses to try to put out the fire and to wet down neighbors' roofs.

;[Preview]  Arsonist destroys Mililani home on Christmas
 

Fire investigators say the fire that destroyed a Mililani home on Christmas morning was intentional.

Watch ]

 

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The fire appeared to spread quickly, and the house was fully engulfed when 30 firefighters arrived at 3:34 a.m. The fire was declared extinguished at 4:54 a.m.

Honolulu Fire Department Capt. Earle Kealoha said four individual fires were set in the living room and three bedrooms. Bickett, a submarine mechanic at Pearl Harbor, rented the home with three friends who are also in the Navy, and a woman. A new 52-inch-screen television Bickett bought on Sunday was destroyed along with everything else. “;There's nothing left in there,”; he said.

Damage was estimated at $500,000 to the structure and its contents. The arson case will be turned over to police for further investigation. Bickett and his roommates plan to stay with friends.

All believe the suspect might be someone who knows them and is familiar with the house. A neighbor heard someone walking alongside the home from the side gate, possibly to the back door. “;I don't think it was a stranger,”; said Bickett's roommate Jedidiah Meadows, noting the suspect did not appear to have stolen anything.

He said his friend heard footsteps in the house and saw a person's silhouette before the fire started. Meadows said he did not think anything of it, assuming everyone had returned from their night out.

“;Whoever set the house on fire knew there was someone asleep in the house and still set the fire anyway. Didn't (wake) him, just left him there,”; Meadows said.

“;He was lucky to have gotten out.”;