POSTED: 05:19 p.m. HST, Feb 28, 2011
Police have reclassified the death of a 78-year-old man who died in an early morning Liliha rooming house fire as a homicide.
Clarence Isobe was taken to the Queen's Medical Center in critical condition after being pulled out of a two-story building at 1909 Liliha St. just after 12:30 a.m. Feb. 2. He later died at the hospital. Two other people were treated and released.
Honolulu fire investigators determined the fire was intentionally set outside the residence. Damages were estimated at $300,000.
Isobe lived in the back of the second floor. His body was found in the front of the second floor. Fire investigators believe Isobe had been trying to get out when he was overcome by the smoke and the heat.
The Medical Examiner's Office has said Isobe died of thermal burns, along with systemic heart disease.
As many as 22 people, including four children, were reported living in the residence.
A city official described the building, which consisted of 18 individual units with shared bathrooms and kitchens, as a nonconforming roominghouse at least 68 years old.