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Vandals suspected in persistent fire in historic Kalihi banyan

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Firefighters were again summoned to Kaiulani Elementary School in Kalihi this morning to extinguish a fire that has been smouldering in a historic 117-year-old banyan tree since Wednesday.

Fire officials said firefighters have been called to the North King Street campus eight times since the first alarm went out at 8 a.m. Wednesday.

To completely extinguish the fire, state Department of Education workers plan to cut down the areas affected by the fire.

The fire is aided by the high winds and firefighters were again called back to the school at 9:50 a.m. today after a custodian reported the flare-up.

After vandals started another fire in the tree in 2011, a fence was erected to protect it.

However, education officials said there is evidence that vandals again were at the tree.

A report of the incident has been filed with the police department.

According to the school’s website, the Indian banyan tree was planted on the makai side of the campus, in 1899 when the school was opened, from a clipping from a tree at Ainahau where Princess Kaiulani lived in Waikiki.

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