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Two charged with arson on Maui, third individual charged with other crimes

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John Hlis (L), 34, of Haʻikū; and Krystale Sharyan Kaneakua (R), 33, of Pukalani

Charges of arson have been filed against two of the three people who were arrested last week in connection with a series of suspicious brush fires in Central Maui.

Police made the arrests as part of an investigation into six brush fires that started between 1 and 2:30 p.m. in Central Maui on Thursday.

A civilian witnessed one of the fires being intentionally set and called police. Furnished with a description of the male suspect and his vehicle, police arrested John Hlis, 34, of Hāʻiku, according to Assistant Police Chief Randy Esperanza who spoke at a press conference on Friday.


Hlis and Krystale Kaneakua, 33, of Pukalani, were both charged with second degree arson. The two were identified in surveillance footage, entering a store and purchasing a gas can, lighter fluid, charcoal and Lysol prior to start of brush fires, according to AC Esperanza.

Steven Sarol, 36, of Pukalani, who was described by police as Kaneakua’s boyfriend, was not charged with arson, but was being held on the highest bail of the three, MPD spokesperson Alana Pico told Maui Now today.

In addition to arson, Hlis was also charged with: use of a firearm in a felony offense; place to keep loaded firearm; place to keep pistol; and place to keep ammunition. Hlis remained in police custody at last report with bail set at $25,200. At a court appearance on Tuesday, his bail was increased to $50,000.


In addition to arson, Kaneakua was also charged with two counts of discharge of sureties. Bail for Kaneakua was set at $26,000, and police say she posted bail on Monday night.

Police say the second degree arson charges against Hlis and Kaneakua stemmed from a five acre brush fire along the Maui Veterans Highway. A fourth degree arson charge against Hlis for a separate fire off of Waikō Road was dropped by prosecutors yesterday.

The Maui Veterans Highway fire was the sixth fire in a string of reports made on May 19, 2022 that are under investigation as suspicious. The list of fires reported included:

  • 12:06 p.m. on ʻĀmala Place in the area of the Wastewater Treatment Plant, burned about one-quarter acre of brush.
  • 1:16 p.m. on Waihinepiʻo Ave. at Keōpūolani Park, burned approximately 1,000 square feet of brush.
  • 1:24 p.m. off of Kahekili Highway and Makaʻala Drive in Waiehu, burned approximately 3 acres.
  • 1:40 p.m. at the intersection of Waiʻale Road and Waikō Road. This fire was put out by a private construction water tanker prior to MFD arrival.
  • 2 p.m. on Hansen Road at Hāna Highway in Kahului, burned approximately 200 square feet.
  • 2:04 p.m. in the area of the Maui Raceway Park off of Maui Veterans Highway, burned five acres of brush.

Although Sarol’s arrested was announced during a press conference related to the police investigation related to last week’s fires, he was not charged with arson or any crimes related to the fires. He was charged with: five counts of contempt of court, three counts of violating conditions of release on bail, and five counts of discharge of sureties, according to police.

Bail for Sarol was set at $248,000. Maui police say he had a count appearance on Monday.

A civilian witnessed one of the fires being intentionally set and immediately called police. He furnished a description of the male suspect and his vehicle, according to Assistant Police Chief Randy Esperanza. VC: Wendy Osher (5.13.22)
Wendy Osher
Wendy Osher leads the Maui Now news team. She is also the news voice of parent company, Pacific Media Group, having served more than 20 years as News Director for the company’s six Maui radio stations.
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