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Video: Tai Chi Company Catches Fire in Hilo

December 28, 2020, 11:54 AM HST
* Updated December 28, 3:28 PM
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Correction: The original version of this article stated it was the Oribe Tea Company that caught fire. In fact, it was the Tam Hoi Tai Chi Center located directly above the tea company in the same building. It is the policy of Big Island Now to correct all errors immediately upon receiving appropriate information.

The Tam Hoi Tai Chi Center caught fire Sunday, an event captured in part by a passerby using her smartphone.

A fire occurred at a Tai Chi Center in Hilo on Sunday, Dec. 27, 2020. Video by Kimberly Krail. 

The Tai Chi Center is located above Oribe Tea Company, both of which are situated in a building on Kīlauea Avenue in Hilo.

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Tim Johnson, owner of Oribe, said the fire originated in the upper corner unit of the Center, where a small office/kitchen space exists. One of his employees was on the property when the fire began and it was she who alerted first responders.

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Johnson added that the building is old, as is its wiring, though the Hawai‘i Fire Department (HFD) has yet to let tenants know precisely what the cause of the blaze was.

An HFD spokesperson based in West Hawai‘i confirmed Sunday that the flames originated in the downtown Hilo building and that firefighters had responded. High winds temporarily knocked out multiple cross-island communication systems Sunday evening, however, hampering the department’s ability to elaborate with more detailed information.

East Hawai‘i officials were spread thin over the weekend, battling both the fire in downtown Hilo as well as two separate brush fires in the Ka‘ū District, and had yet to be reached as of Monday afternoon. HFD communications officials said more information would eventually be released.

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The losses incurred at the Tam Hoi Tai Chi Center are not currently known, though Johnson said the Oribe Tea Company escaped the ordeal without suffering any damage, despite being located just one floor below.

This story will be updated. 

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