The great unknown

LIHUE — The Fourth of July fire that torched a portion of the Coco Palms Resort was classified as undetermined Wednesday by those investigating the cause.

“This is the determination on the cause of the fire at this time,” County Spokeswoman Sarah Blane wrote in an email. “However, should new information come to light, it is possible for the classification to change.”

The classification comes nearly two weeks after the midday blaze. Blane said there isn’t a set timeline on fire investigations as a number of variables play into each case, such as the size of the property, the conditions of the property prior to the fire, the extent of the damage and the extent of the cleanup.

The fire at Coco Palms was fully extinguished two days after it ignited. It destroyed the main lobby and badly burned the breezeway of a connecting building. The old hotel made famous for playing host to movies and celebrities has sat in a state of disrepair since Hurricane Iniki slammed the island in 1992. The fire damage is estimated at $600,000.

Messages to the fire department weren’t returned Wednesday. It’s unclear whether an accelerant was found at the scene.

Honolulu-based Coco Palms Hui LLC is planning on rebuilding the historic Wailua hotel for $125 million. The company’s principal, Tyler Greene, didn’t return messages Wednesday. 

He said in previous interviews with The Garden Island that the fire wouldn’t deter plans for the reconstruction project, estimated to start in 2015 and open sometime in 2017. 

But the fire did alter plans to preserve parts of the old lobby, which the developers could have worked into the new plan, he told The Garden Island recently.

“That was the hardest thing to digest,” he said during a phone interview. “It was our hope to keep some items and bring them back to life and refurbish them and now we do not have that option.”


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