Officials investigating fire that destroyed bird-watching and educational overlook as possible arson

Local News

HONOLULU (KHON2) — A fire destroyed a bird-watching and educational overlook at the Pearl Harbor National Wildlife Refuge on Thursday night, and Honolulu police have classified this incident as first-degree arson; no arrests have been made.

Officials reported flames broke out around 10 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 16, at the Betty Nagamine Bliss Overlook — which is part of the Honouliuli Unit of Pearl Harbor National Wildlife Refuge in Ewa Beach.

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According to officials, no injuries were reported, and refuge staff is evaluating the damage to the overlook. They are also investigating whether there was any additional damage to the endangered Hawaiian waterbird habitat and the predator-proof fence that protects the refuge from invasive predators.

The refuge protects a few of the last remaining wetland areas on Oahu. Three units of the refuge — Honouliuli, Kalaeloa and Waiawa — are essential to endangered wildlife and plants, as well as sensitive coastal habitats.

Until the area can be deemed safe again, the public is asked to stay away.

“This is a devastating loss for the refuge and the community,” said Josh Ream, Pearl Harbor National Wildlife Refuge Manager. “We are committed to working with Honolulu Police and will be working to make the area safe again for the public. Until then, we are asking people to avoid the area.” 

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Anyone with information about this incident is urged to contact Tim Cusak, Federal Wildlife Officer, at (808) 798-8709.

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