Arson suspected in vacation home fire

  • Fire investigators gather evidence Monday at a Volcano Golf and Country Subdivision home damaged Sunday night by arson. (John Burnett/Tribune-Herald)

VOLCANO — The agent for a short-term vacation rental home in Volcano Golf and Country Club Subdivision that was damaged Sunday by arson said Monday he’s “a little freaked out about what happened.”

“It’s pretty disturbing what happened,” Jeff Dale said Monday. “They took some propane tanks that were on the outside of the house for the fireplace into the house. And there’s a possibility that they were trying to set it up so that the house would explode.

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“There’s a lot of weird damage inside. They took some paint and threw paint on windows. There’s some paint all over the floor. Just very disturbing.”

Guests arriving Sunday evening at the home on Pukeawe Circle “showed up and smelt smoke,” said Assistant Fire Chief Robert Perreira, who was investigating the scene.

“It definitely could’ve been worse, but our fire guys got in here quickly and put it out,” Perreira said.

Nine units responded to the 7:21 p.m. alarm, with the first firefighters arriving at 7:48 p.m.

The fire was reported under control at 7:55 p.m. and extinguished at 8 p.m.

According to a written Hawaii Fire Department statement, arriving firefighters “could see oxygen starved flames flickering with only a small amount of smoke emitting” from the house. The windows were reportedly whited out with paint and furniture was found piled up and in flames.

After extinguishing the blaze, firefighters ventilated the home of smoke and combustible gases.

The house fire came three days after the main commercial building containing the pro shop, clubhouse and restaurant at nearby Volcano Golf and Country Club was heavily damaged by an early morning fire.

Asked if there appeared to be a connection between Thursday’s clubhouse fire and Sunday’s house fire, Perreira replied, “We don’t know. The cause of that fire is unknown at this time.”

Yellow barricade tape remained around the golf course building on Monday, but there were numerous golfers playing the popular course.

Police Lt. Rio Amon-Wilkins of the Hilo Criminal Investigations Section said arson incidents on the Big Island are infrequent, “every three or four months or so, maybe.”

County Real Property Tax Office records show the 1,518-square-foot, single-story, three-bedroom, two-bath home is owned by the Gary D. Anderson/Joan C. Gossett Trust and was built in 2006.

Fire officials estimated the loss at $56,925 and the property value saved by firefighters as $170,775.

Dale said Anderson wasn’t allowed inside the house but was able to view some of the damage through the windows.

“We don’t know the extent of the damage yet because we haven’t been inside. But we know it’s probably going to be at least a month or two,” Dale said, before the house can be rented again. “And the busy period is the holidays, so it’s going to be a big blow, financially, to the owners — and to the renters.

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“We’ll do everything we can to help them find something else, but it’s going to be hard over the holidays because everything is so booked.”

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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