Sunday, October 27, 2013

Kalaeloa Fires, Vandalism Plague Former Barbers Point Navy Base, But Some Don't Notice

Three brush fires in Kalaeloa latest in string of suspicious blazes
Honolulu Star-Advertiser  Oct 15, 2013
Fire investigators are looking into three brush fires that they believe may have been intentionally set Monday morning within 90 minutes in Kalaeloa.
Capt. Terry Seelig, Honolulu Fire Department spokesman, said today's incidents are the latest in a string of 20 suspicious fires at Kalaeloa since the beginning of the month.
The largest fire covered about a half acre and was reported at 10:05 a.m. at Tripoli and White Plains Beach road. Two fire companies, two tankers and a federal firefighting company responded. It took fire crews nearly two hours to extinguish the blaze.
Firefighters were first summoned at 8:52 a.m. to Saratoga and Franklin avenues to extinguish a smaller blaze. It took one company of firefighters half hour to put out that fire.
At 9:36 a.m. another small fire was reported at Hornet and Saratoga avenues, where firefighters extinguished it in 50 minutes.
Seelig said over the past two to three months these small brush fires at Kalaeloa have become frequent, appearing clusters like they did Monday morning.

Fires, Vandalism Plague Former Barbers Point Navy Base

By William Cole Oct 15, 2013 Honolulu Star-Advertiser
There have been 20 brush and rubbish fires this month. Dozens of power poles have been felled by metal scavengers. Residents report manhole covers being taken. One observer says the word is out that security is lax and the area is "wide open."
Sections of the former Barbers Point Naval Air Station are returning to the "wild, wild West" vandalism and lawless days that followed the base closing in 1999, a local historian and preservationist charges.

Some residents and officials agree with that assessment by Ewa Beach's John Bond, while others do not, as the old 3,700-acre military base continues to occupy an awkward place between the ongoing departure of the Navy and redevelopment somewhere down the road.

A case in point: State Sen. Mike Gabbard said he rents the former base commander's home from developer Hunt Cos., which is a lessee and owner of 538 acres of former Navy land where a spate of fires and vandalism has occurred.

The single-story, four-bedroom, two-bath house on Franklin Avenue with a large white anchor and chain out front has a large, well-kept yard dotted with flowering plumeria and big shade trees.

But across the street is a house with big holes in the walls in a yard of knee-high dry weeds flanked by a huge dead tree.

Gabbard, who said he pays "market value" rent for his home and has lived in the former commander's quarters and another residence on base since 2004, has not seen a growing vandalism trend.

"Not really," Gabbard said. "I think it's actually better than it was in the old days when we first moved in."

Bond says that through the years, "many very fine former Navy buildings — homes, barracks, clubs, etc. — were smashed, looted and graffitied in every way possible."

That deterioration has continued in the historic officer homes neighborhood where Gabbard is a resident, with holes cut in some roofs for firefighter training — allowing rain to enter, Bond said.

Seelig said his understanding is that a Florida-based company was allowed to put on a firefighting training workshop using some of the homes. The Honolulu Fire Department did not participate, he said.

Honolulu Fire Department spokesman Capt. Terry Seelig said there have been 20 calls for rubbish or brush fires in the Kalaeloa area this month, with three such fires reported on former base property on Monday alone.

The majority appear to have been intentionally set, Seelig said.

The fires have been small, burning a few dozen square feet to more than an acre at a time.

Coincidently, all of these highly concentrated fires being set are all within the same area around and within the historic WW-II homes community, and also coincidently, where HCDA plans a major highway and rail transit line project. Having large canopy trees and historic homes decimated and destroyed creates the "eyesore" effect so necessary to then bring in the bulldozers...

Kalaeloa fires trigger arson concerns

By Jim Mendoza   Hawaii News Now   Sep 17, 2013
Ash on the ground and scorched tree limbs litter an acre in Kalaeloa where a brushfire recently burned.

"The disturbing thing is that the fire was quite intense and went up into the trees and burned a lot of these large trees. We're hoping they'll survive," Ewa Beach resident John Bond said.

He said over the past two months brushfires have popped up in several spots in Kalaeloa on property leased by developer Hunt Hawaii.

One recent blaze burned near the corner of Hornet Street and Saratoga Avenue, about a block from Barbers Point Elementary School. The entire area was once part of Barbers Point Naval Air Station.

Authorities investigate Kalaeloa vandalism

HAWAII NEWS NOW   Oct 16, 2013
Honolulu authorities are trying to determine if an arsonist is behind several fire in Kalaeloa.

Earlier this week, firefighters responded to three fires within an hour of each other in the same area. Officials with the Honolulu Fire Department say there have been 20 brush fires in Kalaeloa since the start of the October.

Fire department crews say they also put out multiple fires in August and September.
Investigators say there appears to be a pattern, and HFD is now working with the Honolulu Police Department to investigate the fires.