Arson Blamed In Hawaii Fire That Killed 97-Year-Old Woman

April 2, 2012

Investigators have determined that a fire that killed a 97-year-old Pearl City, Hawaii woman early Friday morning was intentionally set, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported.

The woman who died in the blaze has been identified by authorities as Betty Hagihara.

When firefighters arrived at the 3-bedroom, wooden home at 4:41 a.m. Friday, they found the structure engulfed in flames, the newspaper said.

Neighbors helped two other residents of the home escape the fire.

Investigators have determined that the blaze started in an open patio area between the house and a front carport, said Honolulu Fire Department Capt. Carlton Yamada. Honolulu police have taken over the investigation.

One of the residents who made it out of the house said the home has been burglarized seven times in the past by thieves trying to steal his radio-controlled model plane collection.

The resident, who has not been named, said he believes burglars used a blowtorch to try to cut a lock to his shed at the back of the house and that may have sparked the fire.

Damage from the blaze is estimated to be $360,000 to the building and $90,000 to its contents, including woodworking tools, radio-controlled airplanes and other equipment, authorities said.

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