By Wendy Osher
Maui Fire Chief Jeffrey Murray is hoping the public will be able to provide a lead in a felony investigation launched into a rash of unscheduled cane fires on Maui.
Since the incidents began in May, eight fires have burned more than 42-acres and resulted in a combined loss of $182,500 to Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Company crops, authorities said.
“I’d like to see the community just be aware of their surroundings in their neighborhoods and just report anything suspicious or out of the ordinary,” said Chief Murray in a press conference today.
“They may or may not see it, but they might be the lead that takes us to solve some of these issues. And we just want the people to stop because its impacting a lot of innocent people.” he said.
“We feel it’s time to make a statement because we want to be sure that these fires stop happening, because of the safety of our firefighters as well as the community that we serve,” said Chief Murray.
“At some point, we might not be able to be there on time or its going to take us away from another emergency that could use us,” he said.
He noted that some of the incidents have occurred within an hour of each other, “it leads us to believe that there’s something not right about it.”
Chief Murray said some items have been sent to the crime lab as part of the investigation, but said the police department will return findings upon completion and a make final determination on any charges.
“We’re just trying to keep everybody safe,” said Chief Murray.
Individuals with information about the fires are asked to call the public number for the Maui Police Department’s Criminal Investigation Division at 244-6425.
County authorities provided a list of the suspicious incidents that included the following:
- May 19, 2013, 2:35 p.m.: along Holomua Road near the Makawao Union Church
- June 1, 2013, 8:23 p.m.: along Holomua Road in two different areas 150 feet apart
- June 1, 2013, 10 p.m.: near Kamaʻāina Road and Mokulele Highway
- June 13, 2013, 10:57 p.m.: near Honoapiʻilani Highway, south of the Waikapū on 30 restaurant
- June 13, 2013, 11:44 p.m.: along Pūlehu Road, about a mile above the landfill
- June 14, 2013, 12:11 a.m.: along Kuihelani Highway, about 200 yards east of the Maui Lani Parkway intersection
- June 16, 2013, 12:45 p.m.: along Hāna Highway in Kūʻau, across the street from Mama’s Fish House
- June 18, 2013, 1:40 p.m. along North Kīhei Road near the parking triangle in Māʻalaea