UPDATE: Shipman Business Park Fire Investigated as Robbery and Arson
by Big Island Now Staff
An early morning fire at a business inside W.H. Shipman Business Park is currently under investigation by the Hawaii County Fire Department’s Fire Prevention Bureau, as well as officers from the Hawaii Police Department.
Fire crews first responded to the fire on Kipimana Street at Melekahiwa Place at approximately 5:20 a.m. Wednesday. According to a release, crews found a two-story warehouse fully engulfed in smoke and flames. Smoke from the fire traveled as far as Mamalahoa Highway, where early morning commuters on each side of the highway drove through the thick smoke.
Reliance Water Tanks, which occupies the retail showroom and sale of water catchment tanks, pumps, is the company that occupies that building. Heavy damage was done to metal beams and supports to the building, and the amount of storage and other material in the building added to the damage inside of the building.
Late Wednesday, police announced that their investigation had focused on a potential robbery and arson that led to the fire. According to a release, investigators found that the chain that locked the front gate to the property was severed. They also found a hole in the wall on the back of the building, which investigators believe allowed at least one suspect to enter the warehouse. A dark, four-door Ford truck was seen in the area before the fire was spotted.
No one was inside the building as the fire took place, according to a police officer on the scene Wednesday morning. The monetary loss to the structure is currently undetermined, according to fire officials.
Anyone with information on the robbery and arson side of the case should contact Detective Grant Todd at 961-2385, or the Hilo Crime Stoppers hotline at 961-8300.