Kalakaua reopens in Waikiki after surf racks burn for second time in less than 2 years

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A two-alarm fire destroyed Waikiki’s surfboard racks today for the second time in less than two years.

Ten Honolulu Fire Department resource units, staffed with 37 people, responded to the two-alarm blaze around 11:18 a.m. on Sunday.

Upon arrival, HFD said firefighters found several surfboard storage shelves in the beach access driveway, all on fire and smoke.

HFD said the flames from the fire encroached directly on the exterior of the Waikiki Substation of the Honolulu Police Department and the Moana Surfrider Hotel.

The occupants of neighboring buildings were evacuated. Heat and smoke from burning surfboards scorched the exterior and concession stand of the Moana Surfrider.

Firefighters focused on extinguishing the blaze that had erupted along the exterior walls of the police station, the roof, eaves and adjacent coconut palms.

The fire department said the blaze was contained within the surfboard rack and concession stand and was completely extinguished by 12:01 p.m. No injuries were reported.

Longtime surfer Theresa Strange was in Moiliili when a friend called her to tell her that the Waikiki surf racks, where she keeps her special hand-shaped boards, were on fire.

Strange quickly made his way to Waikiki, where thick smoke billowed from the city-owned surfboard lockers at 2425 Kalakaua Ave., between the substation and the hotel. She discovered that she had lost a 10ft 6in glider fashioned by local surfboard maker Todd Pinder valued at $ 2,100, as well as a 10ft Nuuhiwa valued at about $ 1,700.

Today was the second time in less than two years that Strange and other Waikiki surfers had experienced this kind of surf loss.

“It’s more than just a rack, it’s a community. It’s hard to get a spot, so people tend to stay for years. Rent is around $ 25 to $ 45 per month and there are around 525 boards here, ”she said.

While the board’s values ​​vary, Strange said emotional attachment may be the biggest loss.

“The board becomes an extension of you because you spend so much time with it,” she said. “If you have a really good one, it’s irreplaceable. There are nuances that make up each board that are translated from the shaper to you.

In a similar fire on February 27, 2020, Strange lost boards fashioned by Donald Takayama and Midget Smith, who are now dead.

“I’ve had boards in the surfboard lockers for years,” Strange said. “In 46 years, this is only the second time there has been a fire – once in February 2020 and now. “

The lockers reopened in August 2020 – not quite six months after the last fire destroyed them.

It is not known what caused the fire on Sunday or the last, although some witnesses blamed it on the homeless, and others said they heard it could be caused by rival surf dealers. .

Angela Kerecz from Kailua said she and her husband Bobby were in Waikiki for a day at the beach with their 10-year-old daughter Soul when they saw the smoke.

“We saw smoke coming from the pier,” said Angela Kerecz. “It scared Soul. She was really clingy.

The fire also put Mandi Wojcicki, a visitor to Battle Ground, Washington, on high alert.

“We’ve seen it from the Aloha Towers,” Wojcicki said. “We were nervous. I said, “What if the island catches fire? My husband said, ‘Mandi, it’s a big island.’ ”


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