Arson suspect charged after abandoned home on Maui goes up in flames

Neighbors say parts of their property were damaged by flames, ash, and smoke.
Published: Oct. 5, 2022 at 10:09 AM HST|Updated: Oct. 5, 2022 at 9:37 PM HST
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KIHEI (HawaiiNewsNow) - Maui police have arrested and charged Christopher Holthaus, 40, with arson after investigators say he made incriminating remarks near a house fire Tuesday night in Kihei.

Officials said the abandoned home off South Kihei Road between Namauu Place and Hoonani Street went up in flames around 9:30 p.m.

“We heard a large explosion,” said Cinthy Cervantes, who lives next door. “It was just so much fire it was like roaring.”

Upon arrival, firefighters found the house fully engulfed with flames. Three engine companies responded to the scene.

“I came out and grabbed the hose and started hosing the roof of my house because I was getting afraid, it was getting windy, going back and forth,” said Semisi Malafu, who also lives next door. “We were all getting nervous. Everybody was screaming at each other, ‘There’s a fire! There’s a fire!’”

Fire personnel worked overnight to extinguish the blaze. Officials said the fire was put out just before 2:30 a.m.

Luckily, neighbors escaped injury, but say parts of their property were damaged by flames, ash, and smoke.

“Our two windows did crack because of the heat,” Cervantes said. “It jumped over to our side, our palm trees caught on fire. Our cars were like covered in ashes and then some parts of the boats burned. The coat of both trucks were burned and there was like fire like holes everywhere.”

Cinthy and Semisi say the house was abandoned and there were often squatters in there.

Investigators say Holthaus frequents the Kihei area.

He remains in MPD custody with bail set at $50,000.

MFD considered the structure a 100% loss.