UPDATE: 4:35 p.m.
Police and CrimeStoppers are asking for the public’s help in identifying a man suspected of starting the fire. Police have opened up a first-degree arson case. A man is seen in a surveillance video.
Anyone with information about the fire or the identity of the suspect is asked to call CrimeStoppers at 955-8300. Web tips may be sent to honolulucrimestoppers.org or via the P3 Tips app.
UPDATE: 4:10 p.m.
Mayor Kirk Caldwell is asking the public for information about the person who started a fire that destroyed about 525 surfboards and damaged nearby buildings Thursday night in Waikiki.
Police opened a first-degree arson investigation in the fire that began about 8:20 p.m. near the Waikiki police substation at 2425 Kalakaua Ave. Fifty-four firefighters responded with 13 units and found the surfboard rack fully engulfed in flames, said Honolulu Fire Department Capt. Jeff Roache.
The fire was extinguished at 9:17 p.m. A fire damage estimate is pending.
Roache said in a statement that the fire destroyed all the surfboards in the storage rack, which is operated by the city. The rack also sustained extreme damage.
Honolulu Emergency Services Department spokeswoman Shayne Enright said the destruction included five rescue boards used by city lifeguards for a loss of $6,000.
“This kind of senseless act will not be tolerated,” said Mayor Kirk Caldwell in a news release. “I ask anyone with information about the alleged arsonist to please come forward so that we can bring this individual to justice. I’m thankful that no one was hurt in this fire, but many lives were affected. These surfboards were treasured possessions for hundreds of our local residents, and not easily replaced. In addition, this endangered hotel guests, the general public, and our first responders.”
HFD Chief Manuel P. Neves said arson investigations rely heavily on the community and eyewitnesses who come forward.
Firefighters urged anyone with information to call CrimeStoppers at 955-8300 or police at 911.
Honolulu firefighters responded to a fire Thursday night that burned the surfboard rack between the police substation in Waikiki and the Diamond Wing of the Moana Surfrider Hotel.
Acting Battalion Chief Capt. Albert McCollum said one fire engine was dispatched to the surfboard fire around 8:22 p.m., but “almost immediately” it was upgraded to a two-alarm fire.
“The surfboard rack is basically a total loss — all the surfboards were lost,” he said, but did not know how many surfboards were being stored.
He said the fire was under control at 8:44 p.m., with 11 companies responding.
After the fire was put out, the five rows making up the surfboard rack were still standing but charred, and empty.
McCollum said the fire only caused exterior damage to the snack bar and restrooms just feet from one side of the surfboard rack. There was only exterior damage done to the Diamond Wing of the Moana Surfrider Hotel, also just a few feet from the rack.
Honolulu police said the fire alarm at the hotel went off and that the Diamond Wing was evacuated.
There were no reports that the interior of any nearby building was damaged.
McCollum said a city representative on scene told him the city owns the racks but the surfboards on them were individually owned.
A security guard said companies operating on the beach stored their surfboards on the rack.
A video of the fire on social media showed flames engulfing the rack near the substation and setting the fronds of nearby palm trees on fire.
McCollum did not have any damage estimates for the fire and said an investigation is ongoing.
— Abba A Solomon (@Abba_A_Solomon) February 28, 2020
Fire in Waikiki tonight! Next to the Moana Surfrider Hotel. Flames reached about as high as the 7-story building. Surfboard racks appear to be torched. pic.twitter.com/rnzfgCaFbq
— Miranda H (@LtPeanut) February 28, 2020