HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - An arson investigation is underway after fire ripped through a shuttered pub in Waikiki on Sunday, and some believe squatters are to blame.
Officials say flames broke out on the roof of Moose Mcgillycuddy’s just after 7 p.m. Sunday.
Although the pandemic forced the business to close for good last year, neighbors say the bar didn’t sit empty for long.
People who work nearby say the building had been overrun with squatters for months.
Fast-moving flames engulfed the back-side of building. The fire was so intense its glow could be seen a block over on Kalakaua Avenue.
A witness says he was working across the street when he saw several people scale the side of the pub.
“A whole bunch of chronic people was coming down. Jumping away from the fire,” said Michael Baxter.
He says squatters have been causing problems there since last summer.
“As soon as they closed people was in there,” Baxter said. “They kicked them out a few times now.”
Off camera, several people told HNN the once popular bar had become a drug den with illegal activity often spilling into the neighborhood.
A man who wanted to remain anonymous said, “They’d been trying to board the place up.”
He went on to say one evening he saw people through the windows.
“They were running around inside,” he said.
Another neighbor told HNN he called 911 to report trespassers just a few hours before the fire sparked.
While fire crews worked fast to keep flames from reaching neighboring businesses, the shop downstairs won’t be reopening anytime soon.
“All the water came down from the second floor,” said Michael Chung. “All the merchandise (is) pretty much damaged.”
Meanwhile, investigators are sifting through what remains to see if they can pinpoint exactly what sparked the fire.