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Arson suspected after fire ignites in rubbish from homeless sweep

Police have initiated a second-degree arson investigation after rubbish left behind from a homeless sweep was set ablaze in Mapunapuna early today.

Two fire companies with eight firefighters responded to the large fire at the Nimitz bike path near 2610 Kilihau St. shortly after 4:50 a.m. The fire was extinguished at 5:30 a.m.

Police said the fire was ignited in rubbish left behind as the state continues its sweep of the bike path.

The rubbish which comprised mostly of bags filled with trash, some wooden pallets and other items was scheduled to be picked up and disposed of by H.T.M. Contractors Inc., according to spokesman Tim Sakahara of the Department of Transportation.

Honolulu Fire Spokesman Capt. David Jenkins said investigators determined the fire was intentionally set and turned the case over to police.

The state started the sweep of the area owned by the transportation department Monday, when deputy sheriffs cleared out 70 people and their dogs and guinea pigs from encampments.

Sakahara said the operation is expected to be completed by the end of next week.

“It is unfortunate that someone intentionally set fire to the rubbish we are working to remove from the area. We are thankful no one was injured and there wasn’t an impact to infrastructure or services,” he said in a written statement.

“We echo Governor Ige’s previous statement that breaking the law will not be tolerated and we are committed to keeping public spaces public,” Sakahara added.

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