Tuesday, January 9, 2001
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Posted on: Tuesday, January 9, 2001

Neighbor Island briefs

Advertiser Staff and News Services


Kona man rescued after boat sinks

PUAKO, Hawaii — An emergency locator beacon led rescuers to a Kona man adrift in a life raft yesterday morning after the fishing boat he was in caught fire and sank off the South Kohala coast.

A Kona man was in this 40-foot fishing boat when a fire broke out in the vessel yesterday. The fisherman was later rescued at sea.

U.S. Coast Guard

West "Kapono" Vannatta, 42, was alone on the 40-foot Moana Kai when the fire erupted.

Vannatta, who was taking the boat to Kona for repairs, left Honolulu 3 p.m Sunday. At about 9:30 a.m. yesterday, a fire broke out in the cabin.

The boat sank in the Alehuihaha channel, and Vannatta escaped in a life raft, taking the locator beacon with him.

A lifeguard at Hapuna State Beach Park saw the smoke and called authorities.

Vannatta was found at 10:30 a.m. yesterday about 13 miles out to sea and was airlifted to shore by a Hawaii County Fire Department helicopter, said Fire Capt. Darryl Oliveira.

The $150,000 boat, owned by Phil Hoyle, was insured, fire officials said.

The Coast Guard is investigating the cause of the blaze.

Big Isle reports power failure

HILO, Hawaii — More than 8,000 homes and businesses in Kona and Hilo experienced a brief power failure Sunday night, the fourth such failure in less than a month on the Big Island.

Hawaii Electric Light Co. spokesman Jay Ignacio said the power failed at 10:36 p.m. The power failure affected the area near Railroad and Kanoelehua avenues in South Hilo, as well as Kealia and Kailua-Kona.

A backup generator restored electrical service about five minutes later.

The same power supplier, Hamakua Energy Partners, was blamed for blackouts on Dec. 19, Dec. 28 and Jan. 4.

Officials have not disclosed the cause of the power failures.

Squatters leave Keaukaha site

HILO, Hawaii — The last squatters have left the so-called Breakwater Village at Keaukaha near Hilo, clearing the way for development of a state park.

Dozens of people have been living illegally for years in about 20 shacks on the eight-acre site at the base of the Hilo Bay breakwater but were ordered to leave by the state in October.

Land department enforcement officers were stationed on the road Sunday to limit access until bulldozers clear the area.

Department officer Andy Ford said the area probably will be reopened for recreational use later this week.

The adjacent area that once was a sewage treatment plant will be used by the University of Hawaii at Hilo as an aquaculture and marine science center.


Tiffany store in Wailea robbed

WAILEA, Maui — Two masked gunmen burst into the Tiffany & Co. store at the upscale Wailea Shopping Village on Sunday night in what police described as a "smash and grab" robbery.

Customers were in the store when the robbery occurred around 8:48 p.m., said Lt. Glenn Cuomo of the Maui Police Department’s Criminal Investigation Division.

The bandits smashed glass display cases and grabbed diamond jewelry, then fled, Cuomo said.

Tiffany’s Maui director, Rae Seki, said the company is thankful no one was injured during the crime and that the company is cooperating with police in the investigation. Cuomo said Tiffany has sent a security expert from the Mainland to assist in the case.

The company opened its Wailea store Dec. 1.

Anyone with information on Sunday’s robbery should call the police investigators at 244-6425, or Maui CrimeStoppers at 242-6966.

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