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Monday, April 17, 2000

Two fires at
Al Phillips could
be connected

HFD explains similarities
that could tie last week's fire
to the one in 1997

By Rod Ohira


Fire investigators are looking at evidence that may tie last week's fire at Al Phillips Uniform Rental to the February, 1997, blaze at the same location.

"I think there are similarities that could link the two together," Honolulu Fire Department investigator Capt. Glenn Solem said today.

An "ignitable liquid" was used to set both fires, he said. The rapidity of the fire spreading and multiple points of origin are other similarities.

Solem said Thursday's fire at 515 Lagoon Dr., which caused $700,000 damage to the structure and $300,000 to contents, had three points of origin.

HFD spokesman Capt. Richard Soo identified them as the dryer section in the middle of the production area and the walls facing Lagoon Drive and Diamond Head.

"The difference is that this one was started in the work area," Solem said. "The 1997 fire started in the storage and work areas."

The 1997 fire caused an estimated $2 million damage.

The fire department is going through lab tests to try to determine what type of "ignitable liquid" was used.

The arson investigation is being handled by police. The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms also is involved in the investigation.

Tracy Elder, agent-in-charge of the Hawaii ATF office, said special certified federal fire investigators are assisting local officials.

When asked if the agency is looking at a conspiracy, Elder said, "It's too early to tell. But nothing's been ruled out."

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