Man charged with arson accused of setting several wildfires in West Oahu

(Image: Sen. Maile Shimabukuro)
(Image: Sen. Maile Shimabukuro)
Published: Mar. 8, 2019 at 4:07 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A 43-year-old man has been charged with setting several fires along the Leeward Coast on Wednesday, police said.

Micah Araneta already has a lengthy criminal record.

And on Friday, he was charged with a single count of arson.

Araneta, who police said is homeless, has been arrested 30 times before.

He has prior six convictions for abuse, violating a temporary restraining order and attempted manslaughter in 1994 in which he was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Police sources say Micah Araneta had been accusing other homeless individuals of stealing from him and allegedly said he would keep setting fires until he got his belongings back.

On Thursday, Araneta was still in jail after refusing to obey officers’ orders while carrying a large metal pipe.

Sources say there were actually four brush fires Wednesday along Farrington Highway between Maili and Waianae and that an eyewitness identified Araneta as the fire starter.

Sources also say officers found a torch lighter in Araneta’s pocket.

Araneta is yet to be charged.

The state lawmaker who represents the area captured the dramatic standoff on her cellphone. She hopes he is locked up for a long time.

"Whatever we can do to make an example of this person to show the law will come down on you, this is not something we fool around with, I think is something the community is really crying out for,” state Sen. Maile Shimabukuro said.

Shimabukuro said West Oahu has been scorched by wildfires her whole life.

Last summer, thousands of acres burned in Waianae from intentionally set fires.

Now, several non-profits will be requesting $1 million in grants to put a gate up in Waianae Valley like the one at Kaena Point.

“That’s the kind of gate that the advocates are pushing for because they’re saying enough already, we know where these guys go, they go up in the valley where they can’t be seen, and they set these fires," Shimabukuro said.

Shimabukuro said they also want fire hydrants to be added.

“Because it’s so far away from the ocean where the helicopters and fire department are trying to get the water and far away from the fire hydrants, it was so difficult for the firemen to fight the fires this past summer. The access to the water was just way too far away,” she said.

Shimabukuro said if it catches on, other valleys could follow.

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