BY BUCK QUAYLE
Three Maui Arsonists Arrested
With the arrest of three persons, Maui police report they have solved the mystery of who set a series of school fires which caused several hundred thousand dollars in damages and upset the school schedules of hundreds of students.
Arrested last week were Philip Y. Hiraoka, 19, of Wailuku, and two 17-year old youths, one from Lahaina and the other from Kahului.
Hiraoka entered a "no contest" plea on a first degree felony charge of attempted malicious burning in connection with a Sept. 30 fire at Baldwin High School in Wailuku.
Hiraoka is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 26. Meanwhile, he has been released on his own recognizance.
Both of the juveniles were charged with the offense of malicious burning and referred to Family Court.
According to a news release about the three Maui arsonists signed by Phil Vierra, acting Maui police chief, the Lahaina youth admitted responsibility for four Lahaina fires: the Sacred Hearts School on Aug. 17, the West Maui Lumber Corp. on Aug. 18, the Lahainaluna High School gymnasium on Aug. 21 and the Kam III School kindergarden on Sept. 16.
In addition, Vierra said, he addmitted turning in a false alarm Aug. 19 and, accompanied by the Kahului youth, was responsible for a Wailuku fire which destroyed a vacant house on Central Ave.
The Kahului juvenile also admitted involvement with Hiraoka in the Baldwin High School fire, the report said.
According to Vierra, the first break in the investigation of the fires came Sept. 30 at Baldwin High School when officers Edwin Muroki and Ralph Lopes discovered a fire shortly after it had been lit.
After putting out the fire, they were able to preserve vital evidence, Vierra said.
He also cited the work of officer Kenneth McGuire who identified the occupants of a vehicle found in the area.
Also credited was Lahaina detective Kenneth Tagushi, who was described as "the maui thrust in the investigation of the major fires in Lahaina" who "played a major role in the solution of these cases."
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Buck Quayle at the Maui Lahaina Sun bureau circa 1970
Reporter/Photographer Buck Quayle in 1971 in Maui with the Cartagenian in the background
Another Day At The Office Haleakala National Park