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Arcing Power Line Ignites Car Fire, Leaves 1 Person Dead

October 13, 2021, 7:33 AM HST
* Updated October 14, 4:55 PM
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A car fire started by an arcing power line left one person dead in Pāhoa Tuesday, Oct. 12.

Hawaiʻi Fire Department responded to the incident near a residence on Heʻepali Street and Puni Mauka Loop at approximately 8:44 p.m. When crews arrived on scene, they discovered electrical lines actively arcing alongside a vehicle partially involved in the flames.

According to HFD, the victim, a 58-year-old woman, was dead on scene on the ground to the rear of the vehicle. She was also on fire.

An HPD officer was the first to arrive at the incident at approximately 8:41 p.m.

According to Hawaiʻi Police, the victim and 58-year-old man were seated in a vehicle parked vehicle on the 15-2700 block of Oʻopu Street when a portion of a tree fell onto the power lines causing the energized lines to fall and come into contact with the roof of the vehicle and nearby surrounding foliage.

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“The downed lines continued to arc on the roof of the vehicle,” HPD stated. “The male occupant exited the vehicle by climbing through a rear tailgate window that had been previously removed and exited without incident.”

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According to police, the woman attempted to exit the vehicle through the same tailgate window when she fell on the galvanized gate that was directly behind the vehicle.

“As she fell, she came into contact with the fence, as well as the vehicle, and was electrocuted,” HPD stated. “The male party attempted to pull the female to safety but was unsuccessful and he was subsequently thrown to the ground by the force of the electricity.”

The male occupant was treated at the scene for minor injuries. The female occupant was transported to Hilo Medical Center where she was later pronounced dead.

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Nearly 1,700 customers lost power due to the downed power line.

Area I Criminal Investigation Section is investigating the incident, which has been classified as a public accident and a coroner’s inquest investigation has been initiated. An autopsy will be performed to determine the exact cause of death.

The victim’s identity is being withheld pending notification of next of kin.

Police ask that anyone who may have witnessed the accident or who has information about the incident contact Lt. Rio Amon-Wilkins of the Area I Criminal Investigation Section at 808-961-2252 or via email at [email protected] or call the police department’s non-emergency line at 808-935-3311.

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