comscore Blaze destroys historic Big Isle theater | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
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Blaze destroys historic Big Isle theater

  • COURTESY RYAN FINLAY

    Firefighters worked to extinguish the fire at the Akebono Theater building in Pahoa this morning.

  • COURTESY RYAN FINLAY

    Firefighters battled a fire at the Akebono Theater building, as theater and Luquin’s Mexican Restaurant owner Salvador Luquin Jiminez, left, looked on, this morning in Pahoa.

  • COURTESY RYAN FINLAY

    Flames engulfed a section of the Akebono Theater building in Pahoa early this morning.

A massive fire destroyed a historic theater and a restaurant in Pahoa overnight.

The fire occurred at about 11:45 p.m. Sunday, according to resident Ryan Finlay. He said he woke up at about midnight and smelled something similar to a campfire.

When he walked out to his front yard, he saw the glow of the fire from the Akebono Theater about a quarter-mile away from his home.

There were no reports of any injuries.

Details on the fire from the Hawaii County Fire Department are pending. Police shut down a section of Pahoa Village Road from Kaleo’s Bar & Grill to Kauhale Street to investigate.

Finlay said he heard there was a small fire in an area behind a vacant pawn shop adjacent to Luquin’s Mexican Restaurant and Akebono. The fire quickly spread to the restaurant and theater.

Finlay said the blaze destroyed Luquin’s and the Akebono.

The restaurant owner, who also owns the Akebono, could not be immediately reached for comment.

Finlay said his church, Grassroots Church of Puna, met every Sunday morning at Akebono Theater for the past decade. Concerts were also held at the nearly century-old theater.

“It’s a big loss for Pahoa,” said Finlay in a phone interview from Pahoa.

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  • Sad day in Pahoa. Luquins served as an unofficial town “piko” or center for many years. In addition, it employs many Puna folks. Salvador Luquin is a good man who has always been there for the community. I’m sure many people will line up to see how we can help.

  • Oh, that’s horrible. So few of the old plantation-style buildings left, so little left from hanabata days. I hope they can rebuild it original-style.

  • I’m really sorry to see this happen amidst a local building boom of modern strip center junk architecture in the area. As a Puna resident, I can’t say I’m surprised, though. I took a visitor who is fire marshal of a small city in North Carolina through Pahoa about a year ago. When he saw that block of buildings, he looked at me and said, “You know what I’m thinking, don’t you?”

    • Thinking ??….. the same thing people thinks when they enter the Honokaa theater. The overcrowding and lack of adequate exits is evident during some of the concerts in old rickety Honokaa.

  • The article reminded me of the old Kahuku Theater with the corogated metal roof. If a heavy rain occurred during a movie showing, the projector was turned off until the rain rattle ceased or at least the noise was low enough to be tolerable.

  • I have family there and used to see that Akebono Theater, kind of shaped like a barn. A landmark in Pahoa. Not many wooden building from that era remain. Loved the old long plantation houses there. Quite sad. Yet glad that no one was injured in the fire.

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