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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, April 15, 2006

Security camera may yield clues in country club arson

By Christie Wilson
Advertiser Neighbor Island Editor

A fire yesterday at the Pukalani Country Club was started by arsonists near the cart barn. Police are hopeful images from a security camera will help identify who started the blaze.

CHRISTIE WILSON | The Honolulu Advertiser

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PUKALANI, Maui A security camera at the Pukalani Country Club may have captured arsonists setting fire to the clubhouse early yesterday morning.

The fire claimed much of the golf course's clubhouse, causing an estimated $550,000 damage to the structure and $500,000 to its contents, including 33 golf carts valued at $5,000 each.

Maui police said they were able to retrieve images from the camera and will review the material to see if the culprits can be identified.

The Pukalani Country Club, located in a quiet residential neighborhood at the 1,100-foot level of Haleakala in Upcountry Maui, has been targeted on previous occasions by vandals who damaged golf carts and greens, but this by far was the most destructive crime.

The fire was reported just after 5 a.m., with a Maui Fire Department unit from nearby Makawao on the scene within five minutes. The flames were brought under control at 6:20 a.m.

Cart attendant Donald Moniz, a retired assistant fire chief, said he arrived for work at 5:15 a.m. and saw flames shooting at least 30 feet in the air.

The fire started in the corner of the clubhouse that contained the cart barn.

About one-third of the golf course's newest carts were destroyed, Moniz said.

Fire Battalion Chief David Kamalani said the fire also damaged the pro shop, kitchen and 151-seat restaurant, which was gearing up for one of its busiest holiday weekends of the year.

The 160-acre golf course, privately owned but open for public play, was built in 1970. It was sold by Tokyo-based Sports Shinko to KG Holdings LLC, headed by Honolulu developer Bert A. Kobayashi.

Reach Christie Wilson at cwilson@honoluluadvertiser.com.