Suspect in Maui school arson case still at-large

Arson investigation opened after school fire causes $1.2M in damage
Published: Nov. 25, 2017 at 3:23 AM HST|Updated: Nov. 27, 2017 at 7:52 AM HST
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MAUI (HawaiiNewsNow) - Nearly three days after a fire caused $1.2 million in damage at a Maui School, police have not yet made any arrests.

Friday night around 9:30 p.m., a fire broke out at classrooms in the middle of the Kahului Elementary School campus. Around the same time, a separate fire charred a portable classroom in a separate part of campus.

Seven companies responded to the two-alarm fire.

The fires gutted the classrooms and forced the school to shut down Monday.

Maui police and fire investigators sifted through the rubble of the charred classrooms determined the fire was intentionally set.

Lokelani Costales lives nearby and says she saw Maui Police officers on campus just before the fire started. She says one officer was using his flashlight and appeared to be looking for someone.

"After he left, maybe shortly after that, we went in the house and we heard fire alarms going off," Costales says ran outside and saw the roof of the classroom on fire. She started using Facebook Live to broadcast the events and heard other people say they saw a second fire coming from another building on campus.

"It is two different buildings that I saw that were damaged," says Asa Ellison, who lives in Kahului and attended the school in fourth grade. He says the damage was significant to both buildings, "One, that was totally gutted and destroyed and probably 2-300 feet away a separate portable was burned."

In a statement, the school's principal Keoni Wilhelm said, "We are saddened by this fire and are cooperating with fire investigators at this time. Many community members have offered support and we are very grateful."

No injuries were reported in the blaze. Crews extinguished the fire just before 1 a.m.

This isn't the first time a fire has displaced students at the school.

In 2010, a large blaze destroyed three 3rd grade classrooms, and caused half a million dollars in damage. To rebuild, the school received a $25,000 grant from Alexander and Baldwin in order to help with the recovery.

Following Friday's fire, the school PTSA started a crowd funding page to raise money for supplies and other items that burned. The goal of the GoFundMe page is $100,000. To access the site click here.

The arson investigation is ongoing.

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