Fire at Pukalani Country Club
An intentionally set fire at Pukalani Country Club on Friday
has left dozens of people without jobs, caused more than
$1 million in damage and forced the closure of the club's
restaurant, leaving more than 600 people who had Easter
reservations looking for new plans.
The fire started about 5 a.m. Friday in a golf cart garage.
Police were to review surveillance tapes of the area yesterday.
Flames destroyed at least 35 golf carts and spread to the
club's restaurant and pro shop. The restaurant sustained
heavy smoke damage, and its air conditioners and ceilings
Yasuo Nishida, the course's general manager, said he could
do little more than watch as the buildings were engulfed
in flames. Some 67 people work at the golf course, and all
but the green and baseyard staff have been told to look
for new jobs.
Police estimated damage to the buildings and their contents
at more than $1.5 million.
Ruth Ann Deponte, manager of the restaurant, said Easter
is one of the busiest days of the year. She and her staff
called all those yesterday who had made reservations for
brunch and dinner.
For some families, she added, Easter at the club has become
a tradition. "I'm dumbfounded," Deponte said.
"And I feel for all these people (at the club) who
don't have jobs. That's what bothers me."
Updated :April 18, 2006
Arrests made in country club fire
By Christie Wilson
Advertiser Neighbor Island Editor
WAILUKU, Maui — Two high school students were arrested
and charged yesterday in connection with a fire that caused
more than $1 million damage to the Pukalani Country Club
The suspects, Maxwell Webster of Ha'iku and Richard Acorda
of Pukalani, are seniors at King Kekaulike High School in
Puakalani. Maui police were looking for a third suspect,
said Lt. John Jakubczak of the Criminal Investigation Division.
Maxwell and Acorda, both 18, are charged with first-degree
criminal property damage, a felony with a maximum 10-year
The two played on King Kekaulike's basketball team. They
are considered "good, respectful" students and
have not caused problems at school, according to health
and physical education teacher Paul Lu'uwai. "They're
very, very good boys, and I am totally shocked that they
may have been involved in something like this. They're good
kids in school and have been all four years," Lu'uwai
Jakubczak said a security camera mounted outside the clubhouse
showed three people using gasoline to start the fire at
about 5 a.m. Friday at the corner of the building where
the golf cart barn is located. Detectives were led to the
suspects by camera images of school sweatshirts they wore
and the vehicle they drove, he said.
The suspects did not provide a motive for the arson, he
The fire destroyed 33 golf carts valued at $5,000 each
and caused extensive fire, smoke and water damage to the
pro shop, kitchen, bar and 151-seat restaurant, a popular
eating place that was gearing up for a busy Easter weekend.
The 160-acre golf course, built in 1970, is a private club
open to the public.
Pukalani Country Club general manager Yasuo Nishida yesterday
said that once phone service is restored, the golf course
could reopen by the end of the week, using a trailer on
site as an office. It will take much longer for the restaurant
to reopen, he said.
The restaurant's 50 or so employees have been told to seek
unemployment benefits, he said. The golf course operation
employs 20 to 30 people.
Maui Fire Department officials estimated damage at $550,000
to the building and $500,000 to its contents. Nishida said
he was waiting for insurance adjusters to make a more accurate
assessment of the damage, which would help owner KG Holdings
LLC decide whether to repair the modest clubhouse or tear
it down and rebuild.
The Pukalani Country Club, in a quiet residential neighborhood
at the 1,100-foot elevation of Haleakala, has been hit by
vandals before. Two weeks ago, a vehicle tore up some of
the greens, Nishida said. In March, a golf cart and water
fountain were set on fire on the 14th fairway.
Jakubczak said it is not known whether Friday's fire is
related to those incidents.