Kalaheo house arson investigation underway

Kaua’i police have arrested one suspect in an arson investigation of a fire that destroyed a Kalaheo house on Sunday morning.

The house is located at 4571 Opu Road and is owned by Laurena Torriser (sic). The fire caused damages estimated at $100,000 to the structure and $50,000 to its contents, according to police and fire reports. Battalion Chief Ernest Moniz said the house is not insured.

Police arrested Todd Tsutomu Ozaki, 25, of 4406 Papalina Road in Kalaheo, on Sunday at 11:55 a.m. at his residence. A police investigation revealed he may have had a motive for setting the fire.

Ozaki lived in the house with his girlfriend at the time, whose mother, Torriser, owned the house, according to police reports. Police reports stated that she was trying to break up with him, and that she had repeatedly called for police assistance relating to allegedly being threatened by him.

Moniz, who responded to the fire, said that the three-bedroom, 1,100-1,200 square-foot house was elevated on tile blocks. The fire looked suspicious because it seemed to have started under the house in several areas and all the doors to the house were locked, fire department officials said.

“The person who was living in the house was on O’ahu at the time,” Moniz said. According to police reports, the house was unoccupied since Saturday, June 29. Moniz said the resident’s dogs were in kennels adjacent to the house at the time of the fire.

Fire investigator Russell Yee said in a police report that gasoline may have been used to accelerate the fire. Arson investigators will conduct a chemical analysis test to determine what was fueled the fire.

Police detectives found a weed-whacker and gasoline can similar to items that Torriser’s ex-husband said were missing from the house on Saturday.

Judge Trudy Senda will arraign Ozaki today in District Court. He is in custody at the Kauai Community Corrections Center, with his bail set at $20,000.

While completing maintenance work on trucks and equipment at the fire station from a previous call, firefighters saw thick black smoke coming from behind Camphouse Grill at 8:40 a.m., according to a KPD fire report.

At about the same time, Torriser’s ex-husband said he went to the police station to report seeing smoke coming from the vicinity of Torriser’s house, according to a police report.

Engine 5 was dispatched at 8:42 a.m., but they were already responding to the fire. Upon arrival a minute later, the exterior of the house was in flames, according to an incident report.

The fire was completely extinguished by 9:46 a.m. About two hours later, Ozaki was arrested at his home.

Responding from Kalaheo were Captain Michael Andrade, Fire Apparatus Operator Kevin Souza, and firefighters Mike Scovel, Brian Sullivan and Lehia Pomroy. Crews from Hanapepe and Lihu’e also assisted.

Staff Writer Kendyce Manguchei can be reached at kmanguchei@pulitzer.net or 245-3681 (ext. 252).’


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