Kurtistown man, 26, charged with arson

Hawaiian Acres fire was deemed to be suspicious

 UPDATED 2:13 PM HST Apr 30, 2013

Big Island police have charged a 26-year-old Puna man who was arrested Monday in connection with a suspicious fire on Friday.

Justin James Clark of Kurtistown was charged with first-degree arson.

At 10:48 a.m. Friday, patrol officers and Fire Department personnel responded to a structure fire at Alulu Road and O'oa'a Road in Hawaiian Acres.  The fire was extinguished, but not before causing extensive damage to the structure.  A Fire Department investigator determined that the fire was suspicious.

Police learned that a sports-utility vehicle had been seen speeding away from the scene shortly before witnesses heard popping sounds and saw the house in flames. Detectives continued the investigation and developed a suspect based on descriptions of the SUV and its occupant.

Clark was arrested Monday at 1:30 p.m. and held at the Hilo police cellblock on suspicion of arson while detectives continued the investigation with the assistance of a fire inspector and a dog from the Hawai'i Fire Department's Arson Canine Team.

Detectives executed a search warrant on the SUV. The Fire Department’s canine was instrumental in helping detectives recover a flammable substance during the search.

At 10 a.m. Tuesday, detectives charged Clark with first-degree arson.  His bail was set at $50,000.  He remains at the cellblock pending his initial court appearance scheduled for Wednesday.

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