As a wildfire that has killed at least 55 and left thousands without shelter continues to wreak havoc on Maui, a story from 2022 has resurfaced of a group arrested on the Hawaiian island after setting a series of suspicious brush fires.
In May of 2022, John Hlis, Krystale Kaneakua, and Steven Sarol were apprehended in connection with a series of suspicious brushfires were reported.
A total of six brush fires were reported within a 90-minute window, burning around 5 acres of Central Maui.
Hlis was charged with second-degree arson for one fire in Puunene and fourth-degree arson for another started in Wailuku, according to Maui News. Hlis was also hit with a slew of gun charges.
Kaneakua was charged with second-degree arson in connection to the Puunene fire.
Police said that Hlis and Kaneakua were seen buying a gas can, lighter fluid, Lysol, and charcoal at a local store just before the fires started.
Sarol, described as Kaneakua’s boyfriend, was not charged with arson. He was instead arrested for violating bail conditions and contempt of court.
The re-emergence of the story comes as wildfires continue to burn across the island, with at least 55 being reported dead and the death toll expected to rise.
The exact cause of the current fire is currently unknown, but much of Hawaii has been under a red flag warning for fire risk.
"We don't know what actually ignited the fires, but we were made aware in advance by the National Weather Service that we were in a red flag situation — so that's dry conditions for a long time, so the fuel, the trees and everything, was dry," Maj. Gen. Kenneth Hara, commander general of the Hawaii Army National Guard, said at a briefing Wednesday, according to CBS News.
The conditions, along with low humidity and high winds, "set the conditions for the wildfires," he said.
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