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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Hamakua Macadamia focus of lawsuit over blaze origin

Associated Press

HILO, Hawai'i Officials with two Kawaihae businesses destroyed in a fire earlier this year are suing Hamakua Macadamia Nut Co., alleging the blaze started in a pile of mac- nut husks and spread to adjoining properties.

Dan Dolaptchieff, of Starwind Marine, joined with Hilo Fish Company Inc. manager Wesley Murakami in the suit filed Friday in Hilo Circuit Court.

The suit alleges fire investigators concluded the Feb. 5 fire was probably caused by spontaneous combustion in a pile of husks stored on Maluokalani Street. The fire then spread to Starwind's boatyard and Hilo Fish Co.'s Kawaihae facility, destroying both, according to the suit.

Murakami's personal boat was stored on the Hilo Fish Co. site. And Starwind's site had "a number" of customers' boats that also were lost in the fire, according to the suit.

Alleging Hamakua Macadam-ia was negligent and created a nuisance with the mac-nut waste, the suit seeks an unspecified amount for damages.

Richard Schnitzler, president and owner of Hamakua Maca-damia, said the fire did extensive damage to the rear of his business as well as other buildings in the same industrial area.

He said the cause of the fire is still being investigated by police and fire officials. Schnitzler said he has also asked the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to look into the case.

Schnitzler declined comment on the lawsuit, saying he had not yet seen it.