Hunt for arsonist continues after Waikiki blaze that destroyed hundreds of surfboards, damaged buildings

Sunday was the second time in less than two years the racks were torched by an arsonist.
Published: Oct. 17, 2021 at 11:31 AM HST|Updated: Oct. 18, 2021 at 5:34 PM HST
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WAIKIKI (HawaiiNewsNow) - The hunt for an arsonist continued Monday following a large blaze in Waikiki over the weekend that destroyed hundreds of surfboards in a city rack and damaged neighboring buildings.

Damage from the blaze was estimated at more than $650,000.

Police sources told Hawaii News Now that HPD has video of the person they think carried out the crime. However, for unknown reasons those images haven’t yet been made public.

An estimated 575 surfboards were destroyed in the fire that sparked just after 11 a.m. Sunday.

The Honolulu Fire Department said the total damage to the boards was estimated at $300,000.

There was also $250,000 in damage to neighboring buildings, including the Waikiki Beachside Bistro and Sheraton Moana Surfrider Hotel. The Waikiki police substation sustained minimal damage.

And the damage to the city’s surf lockers was estimated at $100,000.

A GoFundMe account has been set up by the owner of a used surfboard shop who wanted to help board owners recover some losses. Click here for more.

Sunday was the second time in less than two years that the surf racks were destroyed by an arsonist.

This time, there were far more people around when it happened.

Video shows a woman frantically flee the flames while police rushed to move people out of the way. There were no reports of injuries.

Witnesses say Sunday’s fire spread much faster than the first one.

“Someone had to dump something on it. Gasoline. Lighter fluid. Not even 10 minutes this whole place was engulfed,” said resident Markiss Flathau.

Flathau lost boards both times.

“It’s traumatizing,” he said. “Kind of brings it back all over again.”

The Waikiki Beachside Bistro remains closed.

Meanwhile, the city’s insurance adjuster snapped photos of the aftermath, saying the neighboring Moana Surfrider hotel and the back of the bistro appeared to have suffered more damage compared to 2020.

“It’s just really disappointing,” surfer Nathan Mau said. “Considering they put up all the new surveillance cameras and everything else.”

The 43-year-old man arrested on arson charges shortly after the fire broke out has since been released. Officials wouldn’t confirm if he’d been cleared as a suspect.

Those who lost boards say they want the arsonist held accountable. “First time they didn’t even get a guy. Second time. I don’t know. Hopefully they do,” Flatau said.

Anyone with information is asked to call police or Honolulu Crimestoppers.

[Read a previous report from Aug. 2020: Honolulu to reopen surfboard locker racks destroyed in fire]

Additional details are developing. This story will be updated.

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