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Honolulu Fire Department Release on Marco Polo Apartment Fire – Fire Under Investigation

On July 14, 2017, at 2:17 p.m. the Honolulu Fire Department (HFD) responded to a high-rise building fire at the Marco Polo Apartments, located at 2333 Kapiolani Boulevard. The first HFD unit arrived at 2:21 p.m. to find a 36-story high-rise apartment building with heavy smoke and flames emanating from multiple units on the 26th floor. HFD personnel established command, requested for further resources, secured a water supply and entered the building.

Photo by Nicholas Augusta

As HFD personnel commenced with fire fighting and rescue operations the fire spread to several units on multiple floors, extending to the 28th floor. Over a dozen apartment units were involved in the fire and many more units were evacuated. There were multiple reports of occupants trapped by the smoke and flames. Many occupants were instructed to shelter in place until emergency personnel could escort them to safety. Emergency responders assisted dozens of occupants down stairwells to exit the building.

As the incident progressed, HFD personnel discovered and confirmed three fatalities during search operations. Approximately 12 occupants received medical attention by Emergency Medical Services (EMS) personnel. Four people, including one fire fighter, were transported in serious condition to nearby hospitals.

A total of five alarms were struck for this incident; resulting in over 30 HFD units staffed with over 100 personnel responding to this incident. Other responding agencies include EMS, the Honolulu Police Department, the Federal Fire Department, the Department of Emergency Management, and the American Red Cross, Hawaii Chapter.

The fire is under investigation and the specific cause of the fire and damage estimate are not available at this time.

Mayor Recognizes Numerous Agencies, Private Entities for Fighting Waimea Fire

Mayor Harry Kim on Friday expressed his appreciation to Federal, State, County agencies and private entities for their response to the recent Waimea fire, which burned some 2,200 acres of pasture last week.

The effort to put out the July 7 brush fire involved the County of Hawai’i Fire Department; Hawai’i Police Department; and the County of Hawai’i Department of Public Works; the State Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Division of Fisheries and Wildlife; State Highways Division; the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands; the Pōhakuloa Training Area’s Fire Department.

Waimea residents swung into action, too. Parker Ranch mobilized a water tanker to help fight the blaze.  Glenn Bertlemann and Kamuela Bertlemann brought in D-8 and D-6 bulldozers, and Rocket Fergerstrom brought in a D-9 bulldozer.

“This was a tremendous cooperative effort, where everybody came together to control, contain and put out the fire,” Mayor Kim said.  “I cannot find words to express how much I appreciate everyone’s hard work, quick action and the tremendous team system of responding to this fire.”

The fire, whose cause is under investigation, destroyed one home and a vehicle.  Some farm animals were also lost in the blaze.

Officer Cal-Jason Hoopai – “Kohala Officer of the Quarter”

The Hawaiʻi Island Safety and Security Professionals Association recognized Officer Cal-Jason Hoopai as “Kohala Officer of the Quarter,” (July14), at the the Kona Beach Hotel.

Officer Cal-Jason Hoopai

Officer Hoopai has served with the Hawaiʻi Police Department for over 8 years and previously served with the Maui Police Department.

On (April 9), Officer Hoopai responded to a call to check on the welfare of a female party in Kamuela. The reporting party, who resides out of state, requested that a check be made on her sister; however, she did not know her sister’s address or where she actually lived except that she lived in Kamuela.

After making checks, Officer Hoopai responded to 2 different addresses for the female and could not locate her. He was not deterred and decided to return to the subdivision to continue checking houses broadening his search. Luckily, he heard a dog barking at a residence that appeared to be locked up and secured. He noticed a small window opening just large enough to shine his flashlight in the room and saw a woman lying on the floor.

He immediately called for medics and took quick action gaining entry into the residence to assist the female who was unconscious. Medics transported the female to the hospital while Officer Hoopai made sure there was food and water for the small dog and secured the residence. The following morning, during his time off, he took the time to contact the hospital relative to the condition of the female and his concern for the welfare of her dog.

Officer Hoopai went above and beyond to find this female party and immediately went into action to get her the help she needed. He is consummate individual who exemplifies the Core Values of the Hawaiʻi Police Department with Integrity, Professionalism, Compassion, Teamwork and Community Satisfaction.

Hawai‘i Forest Legacy Program Accepting Applications for Conservation Acquisition Assistance

The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) is seeking new projects for its Hawaiʻi Forest Legacy Program that will protect important working forest lands from the threat of conversion to non-forest uses. The Forest Legacy Program, administrated through DLNR’s Division of Forestry and Wildlife, is accepting applications for conservation acquisition assistance through the program.

The Hawai‘i Forest Legacy Program works with private landowners, state and county agencies, and conservation non-profit groups to promote sustainable, working forests. Roughly 66 percent of forest land in the State of Hawai‘i is privately owned, with the majority of private landowners wanting to preserve these forests and leave a lasting legacy. Unfortunately, nationwide millions of acres of privately-managed working forests have been lost or converted to other uses with millions more projected to be converted in the next decade. Hawai‘i is no exception to this trend.

“With the help of land trusts and conservation-minded landowners, we have been able to protect our important forest resources, preserve forest essential for water production, shelter endangered species, and safeguard our culturally important sites,” said Suzanne Case, DLNR Chairperson.

More than 2.5 million acres of threatened private forests in the U.S. have been protected under the Forest Legacy Program, of which 47,000 acres have been protected in Hawai‘i. The Division of Forestry and Wildlife is currently working on projects that will protect an additional 3,700 acres of important forested watershed lands through the Forest Legacy Program.

The majority of Hawaii’s projects are conservation easements that allow landowners to retain ownership of the restricted title to their property while providing permanent protection from development or unsustainable uses. Oftentimes, this economic opportunity provides landowners with an alternative to selling their land to development companies. Conservation easements are strictly voluntary to enter into and the restrictions are binding to all future owners in perpetuity.

“The national Forest Legacy Program is very competitive with only a few dozen projects funded by the U.S. Forest Service each year,” Case said. “Hawai‘i always puts in strong projects that compete well in this national program,” she noted.

The Hawai‘i Forest Legacy Program has identified forest lands throughout the state as important and in need of permanent protection. More information about this status can be found in the State’s Assessment of Needs on the Hawai‘i Forest Legacy Program website (http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/forestry/lap/forest-legacy/).

The Hawai‘i program accepts both fee title and conservation easement acquisitions. Fee title acquisitions are voluntary and can provide landowners with the knowledge that their property will be managed and owned in perpetuity by the State of Hawai‘i.

The deadline for the next round of applications to the Hawai‘i Forest Legacy Program is August 21, 2017. Applications can be found at http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/forestry/lap/forest-legacy/ and should be submitted to Malia Nanbara by email.

Landowners and non-profits entities who are interested in participating in the Forest Legacy Program are encouraged to contact Malia Nanbara at the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife at (808) 587-4176 or by email at Malia.Y.Nanbara@Hawaii.gov to discuss their property and interest in the program.

Federal Court Rules in Favor of Travel Ban Plaintiffs

Yesterday, Hawaii federal district Judge Derrick K. Watson issued an order, which largely grants the State of Hawaii and Dr. Ismail Elshikh’s motion to enforce, or in the alternative, to modify the preliminary injunction, filed last Friday in Hawaii v. Trump.

Click to view order

On June 26, 2017, the United States Supreme Court issued an order in this case that the travel ban could not be enforced against foreign nationals who have a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States, including those with a “close familial relationship.” The same standard applies with respect to refugee admissions. The federal government subsequently issued guidance that such “close familial relationships” did not include grandparents, grandchildren, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and cousins of people currently living in the United States.

Judge Watson’s order notes that “context matters” and:

“[W]hen appropriately considered in the context of the June 26 order, the Government’s narrowly defined list finds no support in the careful language of the Supreme Court or even in the immigration statutes on which the Government relies.

[T]he Government’s utilization of the specific, family-based visa provisions of the [Immigration and Nationality Act] … constitutes cherry-picking and resulted in a predetermined and unduly restrictive reading of ‘close familial relationship.’ Other, equally relevant federal immigration statutes define a close family in a much broader manner.

In sum, the Government’s definition of ‘close familial relationship’ is not only not compelled by the Supreme Court’s June 26 decision, but contradicts it. Equally problematic, the Government’s definition represents the antithesis of common sense. Common sense, for instance, dictates that close family members be defined to include grandparents. Indeed, grandparents are the epitome of close family members. The Government’s definition excludes them. That simply cannot be.”

Attorney General Chin said, “The federal court today makes clear that the U.S. Government may not ignore the scope of the partial travel ban as it sees fit. Family members have been separated and real people have suffered enough. Courts have found that this Executive Order has no basis in stopping terrorism and is just a pretext for illegal and unconstitutional discrimination. We will continue preparing for arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court in October.”

Judge Watson’s order also notes that contrary to the Trump Administration’s arguments, “[n]othing in the Supreme Court’s decision requires a refugee to enter into a contract with a United States entity in order to demonstrate the type of formal relationship necessary to avoid the effects of [the Executive Order]. An assurance from a United States refugee resettlement agency, in fact, meets each of the Supreme Court’s touchstones … [b]ona fide does not get any more bona fide than that.”

A copy of Judge Watson’s order is attached.