Suspected mentally ill arsonist denies starting $735K fire in Nanakuli

Suspected mentally ill arsonist denies starting $735K fire in Nanakuli
(Image: Leilani Gaspar)

NANAKULI, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A 50-year-old homeless man with a well-documented history of mental illness pleaded not guilty on Friday to starting a Nanakuli fire that destroyed one home and badly damaged another.

Jonathan Laronal, Jr. was arrested Tuesday, hours after the Honolulu Fire Department responded to the three-alarm blaze. Authorities later ruled it had been intentionally set.

Neighbors tell Hawaii News Now that Laronal had been squatting in the Mikana Street home before burning it to the ground. They allege he's been terrorizing the neighborhood for months, starting car fires and forcing nearby homeowners to spring into action and extinguish flames themselves.

"We contacted our City Council representative," said Taj Pacleb. "Our neighbors have been calling police, multiple times."

Laronal is expected back in court next week.

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