Thursday, August 5, 1999

By Ken Sakamoto, Star-Bulletin
A fire department investigator pokes through the charred rubble of a
second-floor apartment looking for the cause of this morning's fire
in Moiliili that destroyed the unit and damaged seven other apartments.

Arson suspected
in Moiliili fire

An early morning fire destroys
one unit and damages all seven others
in a wooden Varsity Circle
apartment complex

By Jaymes K. Song


Fire officials believe a blaze that swept through a Moiliili apartment complex this morning appears suspicious.

Six fire engines and a rescue crew responded to the 4:40 a.m. fire at 2908 Varsity Circle, next to the University of Hawaii athletic fields on the lower campus. Firefighters had the blaze under control at 4:51 a.m.

"What a way to start the day," said Ken Kmett. "It just ruined my day."

Kmett's apartment sustained smoke and fire damage. He lives next door to the destroyed apartment where the fire began on the second floor of an eight-unit complex.

All of the apartments in the building suffered some fire, smoke and water damage.

Fire Capt. Richard Soo said no one was in the burning unit at the time of the fire and that the electricity had been shut off because the woman who lived in the apartment has been on the mainland for the last month.

'The fire department
got here real quick. Thank God
everybody's out.'

Ken Kmett


Kmett said he was awakened by a constant beeping sound that he thought was his neighbor's alarm clock.

It started to get real warm, he said. So he went to the bathroom and splashed water on himself to cool off.

When he went back to bed, he heard glass breaking and went outside to check on it, and that's when he saw flames shooting out from his neighbor's apartment.

Neighbors a block away were awakened by Kmett's screams.

"The fire department got here real quick," Kmett said. "Thank God everybody's out.

"Now, I'm just worried about my fish, 'Killer,'" he said.

Dozens of residents in pajamas and T-shirts watched firefighters climbing ladders, carrying hoses and spraying thousands of pounds of water into the burning unit.

Residents said "big balls of fire" were shooting out of the apartment before firefighters arrived.

About $170,000 of damage was reported to the destroyed unit, fire officials said.

Damage estimates are expected to rise because the roof of the complex is sagging and needs to be replaced.

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