HONOLULU (KHON2) — The City will be removing the fire-damaged surfboard lockers from Kuhio Beach Park this week, according to an email sent to one of the locker renters. A massive fire ripped through the iconic surfboard racks last October, destroying more than 500 surfboards.
Theresa Strange has been a tenant at “Da Racks” for five years. She said the racks have served as a meeting place, a community and source of camaraderie.
“Da Racks provide a service for our the kupuna who can’t carry their heavy boards from their cars to the beach,” Strange told KHON2 on Sunday. “Many of the lockers are surfers in their 70s and 80s.”
She adds that for kupuna, this was their only source of exercise and social interaction, but she hasn’t seen many of them since the fire on Oct. 17, 2021. It was déjà vu for many whose boards were lost in the first fire on Feb. 27, 2020. Strange also lost three boards in the fire both times.
Police arrested an arson suspect shortly after the last fire, which caused more than $600,000 in damage. According to investigators, video footage shows the suspect bending down and reaching in with his hand holding the lighter. The surfboards, however, blocked the cameras from showing what he was doing. Four minutes later, investigators say smoke and flames quickly spread.
In the email sent to Strange, the City says it will continue to explore options regarding the future of the surfboard lockers.
“A special rental program offered by our nearby beach services concessionaire, Dive Oahu, will temporarily provide a limited number of surfboards for locker renters from the following categories:
- ADA (free of charge)
- Senior citizens, 70 years or older (discounted rate)
To sign up for this program, please contact the Department of Enterprise Services at firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Strange would rather see the City reinstall and repair the damage like they did before.
“If the City would have installed a fire prevention system, that would have helped,” she said. “Maybe even a secure fencing system around the racks to prevent unauthorized persons from setting fire to the boards.”
In the meantime, Strange said they don’t have anywhere else to keep their boards other than the private racks next to The Cheesecake Factory, adding that their rent is much higher.
“The ‘Rack Pack’ were waiting to hear from the Enterprise Department, but it looks like this will fragment us as a group and Kuhio Beach will be changed forever because of it,” said Strange. “The Rack Pack were a group that always took care of the area, the breach and surroundings. That looks to change.”
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KHON2 reached out to the City for comment but did not get a response at the time of this publication.