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Ala Wai man, 28, charged with arson in highrise condo fire

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A 28 year-old man has admitted to starting a fire on Tuesday night in an apartment on the 18th floor of a highrise on University Avenue near the Ala Wai Canal, according to a police affidavit.

Dustin Wayne Saluda was charged Thursday with first-degree arson in connection with a fire at the Ala Wai Plaza condominium complex. His bail was set at $200,000. First-degree arson is a class felony which carries a maximum jail term of life and $50,000 fine.  

According to the affidavit, a police officer accompanying firefighters to the blaze in the complex’s Park Tower was told by residents that Saluda had started the fire. When the police officer approached the suspect, he said: “I started the fire, officer. I started the fire.” Then, as Saluda was escorted down the stairs, police said, the suspect said he started the fire because his roommate, the Honolulu Police Department, and the Marines had hypnotized him.

The fire prompted hundreds of residents to evacuate the tower, a 349-unit, 25-story building at 500 University Ave., next to the Marco Polo apartment complex on the Ala Wai Canal. No injuries were reported.

Firefighters responded to the blaze at about 9 p.m., and within about 20 minutes contained the blaze, which had spread throughout a three-bedroom, two-story, 1.540 square-foot apartment. Saluda, one of three people residing in the apartment, was arrested on suspicion of arson. 

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