‘Person of interest’ sought after string of fires at Waikiki hotels

Updated: Aug. 7, 2019 at 9:46 PM HST
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WAIKIKI, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Police are looking for a “person of interest” following three Waikiki hotel fires in three days that are being investigated as arson.

(Image: CrimeStoppers)
(Image: CrimeStoppers)

On Wednesday afternoon, police released several surveillance images of the “person of interest" at each of the three Waikiki hotels where fires have happened.

Anyone who recognizes the man in the images is being asked to call CrimeStoppers at 955-8300.

Police also urged residents and visitors to be on the lookout for anything suspicious. “Be vigilant,” he said. “When you hear these alarms going off, don’t play it off.”

The latest fire happened Tuesday night at the Grand Waikikian by Hilton on Ala Moana. The Honolulu Fire Department confirmed the fire was intentionally set.

Waikiki Arson update

#LIVE: Authorities are looking for a person of interest following 3 intentionally set fires at Waikiki hotels. Honolulu CrimeStoppers provides the latest information. #HINews #HNN

Posted by Hawaii News Now on Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Crews called to the hotel around 8:45 p.m. found a small fire extinguished on arrival on the 28th floor. No injuries were reported.

It comes a day after an arson investigation was opened for a fire inside the Waikiki Beachcomber. Authorities believe it was possibly a diversion to break into rooms.

And a day before that, on Sunday, a fire was intentionally set at the Alohilani Resort.

Photos obtained by Hawaii News Now from inside the Beachcomber showed the open doors of rooms 601 and 1407, where someone stole jewelry, designer bags, and electronics during the evacuation.

The automated key entries to the rooms were clearly tampered with. HPD confirms they are investigating burglary cases.

During Monday’s fire, guests were evacuated down to the street below as Kalakaua Avenue was closed for more than two hours.

Some guests spent four hours waiting to get back into their rooms.

“I usually hear the alarm go off in the hotel and think eh, someone’s burnt the toast and tend to ignore it,” said Australian visitor Margaret McGuffin.

Fans have since been placed on several floors inside the hotel, trying to dry the wet carpets and clear the stench of smoke.

Even before HFD ruled that fire intentional, Waikiki resident Charlie Hazelton was concerned.

“It seems kind of suspicious. I don’t know. They definitely need to do some investigating. Cause that does not seem right,” he said after witnessing fire after fire.

New surveillance video obtained by Hawaii News Now Wednesday evening appears to show the same man at the Holiday Village Condominium on Amana Street.

“On Thursday night around 930, a gentleman came to the building and broke in with some type of a blade,” said Resident Manager Dee McBride. “He pulled the fire alarm, covered up the camera and everybody evacuated.”

Cameras show him starting on the 20th floor and going floor to floor looking for open doors, finally finding one on the 9th floor where he stole watches and a laptop.

McBride said HPD spent hours looking at her video on Wednesday because they believe it is the same man setting fires in Waikiki.

There was also another flier posted outside the Kapiolani Manor on Makaloa Street dated June 12th. It says the man pulled a fire alarm and entered an unlocked unit.

Posted outside the Kapiolani Manor
Posted outside the Kapiolani Manor

Other property managers are now circulating another flier warning Waikiki residents to be on the lookout.

Police, firefighters responded to a Waikiki hotel Tuesday night for yet another fire.
Police, firefighters responded to a Waikiki hotel Tuesday night for yet another fire.(Hawaii News Now (custom credit))

This story will be updated.

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