UPDATE: Walmart Clothing Fire Remains Under Investigation
***Note: An update was posted at 3:45 p.m. to include information from the Hawai’i Police Department.***
The Hawai’i Police Department has opened up a first-degree arson and third-degree attempted theft investigation into Tuesday’s fire at the Walmart store on Makaala Street in Hilo.
Detectives from the Area I Criminal Investigations Section returned to the store today to continue their investigation. They recovered surveillance footage from the store and are in the process of reviewing the video.
Police say they are looking for two men who were seen at the store prior to the incident. None of the men have been identified by name.
The first suspect is described by police as “possibly a local Caucasian man,” approximately 5-foot-8 to 5-foot-10 with a heavy build and light tan complexion. The person was last seen wearing a red baseball cap, red shorts, and a red t-shirt with the logo for “Heart and Huntington” on the upper left side of the front.
The other suspect is described as Caucasian and similar in build, but heavier. He was observed wearing a gray t-shirt, light-color shorts, and a red baseball cap.
Authorities are looking for anyone who may know the identity of the suspects or were at the store when the incident took place. Anyone who can help with the investigation should contact Detective Wendell Carter by phone at 961-2378 or e-mail [email protected]
***Original story posted at 8:57 a.m.***
An in-store fire that temporarily closed the Hilo Walmart location on Makaala Street remains under investigation.
According to the Hawai’i County Fire Department, its units arrived on scene at 4:27 p.m. Tuesday and found employees and customers of the store evacuated from the building. The fire, which was started in the men’s clothing section, was quickly put out by a store employee, whose “quick thinking and reaction to the fire minimized the property loss,” according to HFD.
The fire was put out using dry chemical extinguishers. The items burned were contained to a single free-standing clothes rack.
Heavy smoke was noted throughout the store, according to HFD, and the smoke was removed by the Fire Department’s exhaust fans using a combination of “horizontal, mechanical, and natural ventilation.”
Walmart was given the all clear to resume operations at 9 p.m. that night, according to a company spokeswoman. Earlier in the evening, according to a source, employees were told that it was not likely that the store would open again until the next day.
Walmart’s spokeswoman says that a limited selection of men’s clothing is available for sale. Clothing and products from the nearby infant selection has also been removed as a safety precaution.
“Anything affected by smoke damage has been cleared,” said the spokeswoman.