Maui News

Arson Investigators to Spark Live Fire Demo on Maui

September 19, 2011, 5:33 PM HST
* Updated September 19, 5:36 PM
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By Wendy Osher

*** Check back for video/photo coverage.

File photo of a live fire demonstration conducted during Fire Prevention Week last year. This week, the Maui Fire Department will host a similar demonstration to show the effectiveness of home sprinklers. File photo by Wendy Osher.

The Maui Fire Department is host this week to the International Association of Arson Investigators Hawaii Chapter Conference.

Arson investigators from police and fire departments around the state have convened in Makena for the three-day conference, which includes lectures, videos, and information specific to fire science.

The conference will conclude on Wednesday with a live fire demonstration, intended to show the effectiveness of home fire sprinklers.


Officials will set two fully furnished (8’x8’x8′) rooms–one with sprinklers, and another without–on fire to simulate a residential burn.


The demonstration is intended to show both the effectiveness of sprinklers, and how quickly a fire can spread if left unchecked and unprotected, according to Kapono Stupplebeen, a Public Education Officer with the Maui County Fire Dept.

“Temperatures of 1000 degrees are not uncommon in home fires, consuming every thing in the room and spreading rapidly to another,” said Stupplebeen who noted the excessive temperatures can be reached in as little as three minutes.

Arson was identified as the cause of a fire earlier this month at the Maui/Molokai Drug Court offices in Wailuku that caused an estimated $250,000 in damage.


“Fire damage would have been more extensive if the building had not been protected by fire sprinklers,” said Maui Fire Services Chief Lee Mainaga.

Authorities have since released surveillance images of a suspect believed to be responsible for the incident.

The conference will also include a presentation by guest speaker Jamie Novak, a 28-year veteran fire investigator from St. Paul Minnesota.  Information will also be shared to help investigators in determining cause and origin of fires.

“I am happy to be able to provide this for our chapter members and fellow investigators,” said MFD Lead Arson Investigator and IAAI Hawaii Chapter President James Blando.

“Being able to see what others may not and make accurate determinations on how the fires start is what we do day in and day out, this is one of the ways we keep current and stay on top,” he said.

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