Investigators say man accused of setting fire to Waikiki surfboard racks was only one there when fire began

Local News

HONOLULU (KHON2) — The man accused of setting the surfboard racks in Waikiki on fire was back in court on Monday where a judge ruled that there was enough evidence to put him on trial. Investigators told the judge that 48-year-old Glenn Helton was the only person in the area when the fire started.

A detective with the Honolulu Police Department (HPD) and an arson investigator with the Honolulu Fire Department (HFD) testified that they examined the security footage of the moments right before the fire started on the morning of Oct. 17. Both say a man, later identified as Helton, went to the surfboard racks twice where the flames started.

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“There was a lot of cameras in that area and it showed clearly Row H of the surfboard locker, an activity that happened prior to the fire being noticed by the public,” said HFD Capt. Edward Millard.

Investigators say the second time Helton went toward the surfboards, he picked up a lighter from the ground and tested it a few times.

“I could see sparks because when he picked it up, there was a shadow on the building, so you could see a couple of sparks,” said HPD Det. Bruce Sanehira.

Investigators say Helton bent down and reached in with his hand holding the lighter, but the surfboards blocked the cameras from showing what he was doing then. Four minutes later, investigators say smoke and flames quickly spread — and they say he was the only one who could have started it.

“I didn’t see anybody stop. I didn’t see anybody throw anything in that area. I saw people, very few people, but they didn’t stop or throw anything,” said Sanehira.

Damage is estimated at $650,000. Nearly half of that is from the surfboards that went up in flames.

“It was pretty much total destruction in the surfboard locker area. The only thing that was left standing was the metal frames of the surfboard locker. Every surfboard was destroyed,” said Millard.

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Helton remains in custody and is scheduled for his arraignment and plea hearing on Nov. 8.

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