HONOLULU (KHON2) — The Hawaii County Fire Department says an unoccupied residential structure in Pahoa that is known to be frequently occupied by squatters sustained an estimated $150,000 in damage during a structure fire on Tuesday.
Officials say the fire was reported at 9:48 a.m. at 15-2824 Lai St. and the first unit arrived at 9:54 a.m.
Firefighters found the 8-foot high post-and-pier residential structure about 95% involved in fire upon arrival. Authorities say an adjacent residential structure and surrounding trees and brush were threatened by fire and heat.
The blaze was contained to the original structure and it was brought under control at 10:15 a.m., according to firefighters. Officials said the fire was difficult to access due to its height and the unkempt yard, but crews were able to extinguish and overhaul it.
Hawaii police officers arrived and gathered information from neighbors and determined, “The house was known to be occupied by squatters, but no one was found on scene or in the structure,” according to the Hawaii County Fire Department.
The fire was extinguished by 11:30 a.m., fire officials said. The cause of the blaze is under investigation. Post-and-pier houses rest on pilings rather than atop a continuous foundation.