Neighbors: Suspicious activity at house destroyed by fire

  • Kelsey Walling/Tribune-Herald Trucks are abandoned and stripped outside a house that was burned during a Wednesday evening fire in Hawaiian Beaches.

  • Kelsey Walling/Tribune-Herald Police officers exit a house in Hawaiian Beaches Thursday that was charred in a Wednesday evening fire.

Neighbors of a Hawaiian Beaches home destroyed Wednesday evening in what authorities think might be an intentionally set fire said there had been suspicious activity at the house prior to the blaze.

According to a Hawaii Fire Department statement, witnesses saw a woman enter the house. A short time later, there was a “boom,” and the woman was seen running away from the house with the structure catching fire.

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Seven units responded to the 6 p.m. alarm, with the first arriving 10 minutes later at the house at the corner of Kahakai Boulevard and Puni Makai Loop North. The fire reportedly was under control at 6:30 p.m. and extinguished at 6:50 p.m.

There are other houses nearby, but firefighters were able to keep the blaze from spreading.

The statement described the fire as “possible arson,” and police and a crime scene evidence technician examined the charred remnants Thursday.

There were at least three vehicles, two of which appeared partially stripped, on the property.

A neighbor, Debbie Evans said there had been a “for sale” sign on the house, but it had been removed. According to Evans, the home’s owner or owners “had helped people move out, and they fixed it up.”

“There was somebody staying in it while they fixed it up,” Evans said. “And then the sign disappeared and these people, they moved in. … And then, this happened.

“It was probably unoccupied when the people that were there before moved out until they were doing renovation to it, probably six months. And then, there had been somebody in it again, maybe two months.”

Another neighbor, who identified himself as simply “Dave,” said he was “not surprised” by the fire.

“This house has been trashed ever since I lived here, for six years,” Dave said. “There were vehicles and dogs and trash up until maybe about a year ago, a little less than a year ago. They got rid of them, got it all cleaned up. It needed a lot of work, but it was put on the market, very high. They kept dropping the price, dropping the price, but it was still high for what it was, because it needed a lot of work. It had been neglected for a long time.

“All of a sudden, the sign was gone, and it looked like the same people they’d gotten out of it were back. It was trashed all over again, vehicles that didn’t run all over again. It was just a mess.”

The fire department statement said, “Per the owner, squatters were living in the house and were told they had a few days to vacate the property” prior to Wednesday night’s fire.

According to county tax office records, the house, a two-story structure with a small pool, was owned by Gary Patrick Isenhower, whose Facebook page describes him as a retired landlord. But a check of court records shows Isenhower to be deceased since at least 2019, when there was a civil filing concerning his estate.

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Property value lost due to the fire is estimated at $230,000. There were no reported injuries.

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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