Police identify suspect arrested in connection with wildfires in West Oahu

(Image: Sen. Maile Shimabukuro)
(Image: Sen. Maile Shimabukuro)
Updated: Mar. 7, 2019 at 9:20 AM HST
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A man is in police custody following a string of wildfires that broke out Wednesday in West Oahu.

LEEWARD OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A man is in police custody following a string of wildfires that broke out Wednesday in West Oahu.

Honolulu police on Thursday confirmed that 43-year-old Micah Araneta was being held on suspicion of second-degree arson and a contempt of court warrant.

It’s not clear which fire Araneta is accused of starting, but police said there were four wildfires total that reported along Farrington Highway in Maili — all between 2:50 p.m. and 3:15 p.m.

Police and fire choppers doused the flames, which charred about 20 acres. The fire was contained just after 5 p.m.

No homes were threatened and no injuries were reported.

How the fire started is still under investigation, but just as the flames were spreading, police confronted a man about two miles down the road in Waianae.

A city bus full of passengers had just passed that Maili fire when they came upon the standoff.

Leeward Coast State Senator Maile Shimabukuro was inside that bus.

“I posted the pictures on Facebook and somebody commented, ‘The arsonist is at it again and started a fire by the sewer.’ So then the bus kept going and sure enough, we approached the sewer and then the next thing I know, people are again saying, ‘Look out the window!’ And I saw a small fire that looked like it had just been started," she said.

Shimabukuro said the man was standing right next to that fire on the side of the highway.

“About 25 feet away, there’s a standoff going on between HPD pointing guns at this man who was holding a torch or some kind of weapon,” Shimabukuro said.

Sources said police eventually tased the man and took him into custody.

The dramatic afternoon has Senator Shimabukuro renewing her push for a million dollars in grant money to help fight West Oahu wildfires.

“Fires have been terrorizing our community my whole life," she said. “Every summer, our mountains are on fire. I really hope that this million dollars that the community is requesting for the Waianae Kai Wildfire Preparedness Plan can be granted by the legislature."

This story may be updated.

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