Hawaiʻi Police Department
Criminal Investigations Section, Area I
Lieutenant Gregory Esteban
Report No. C13011076
Media Release (update No. 2)
Hawaiʻi Island police have charged a 26-year-old Puna man who was arrested Monday (April 29) in connection with a suspicious fire on Friday (April 26).
Justin James Clark of Kurtistown is 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 Oʻoaʻa 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 from the Area I Criminal Investigations Section 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 Hawaiʻi 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 (April 30), 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 (May 1).