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Haleiwa brush fire that prompted evacuations was intentionally set

By Star-Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 12:29 a.m. HST, Aug 19, 2011

A brush fire that prompted the evacuation of Haleiwa Elementary students and burned a homeless encampment was intentionally set, fire Capt. Terry Seelig said Thursday night.

The fire appears to have started near the homeless encampment, Seelig said.

The fire destroyed about 12 acres of brush near Haleiwa Elementary, along with the pitched-tent encampments of about 10 homeless people along the shore of Kaiaka Bay.

The school and several residences on the Waialua end of the bay were evacuated as the fire crept close.

Called in initially at 11:08 a.m., the blaze was declared under control at 12:30 p.m., said Seelig. Crews worked through the afternoon, putting out hot spots in the thick brush where haole koa, volunteer cane and weed grass reached 6 feet or higher.

Waialua resident Tracy Magno said several friends living in the homeless encampment lost many of their belongings and walked away in disgust.

Haleiwa Elementary’s 183 students evacuated from school around 11:15 a.m. to the far end of Kaiaka State Park next door.

Seelig said school officials closed the school voluntarily, and largely because of smoke concerns.

“It was a good call,” he said.

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