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Surfboards burn in blaze next to historic Waikiki hotel

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HONOLULU — Surfboards stored next to a historic Waikiki hotel went up in flames Sunday for the second time in less than two years.

Firefighters called to the scene found several storage racks of surfboards at a beach alleyway in flames and evacuated the adjacent buildings: the Moana Surfrider Hotel and the Honolulu Police Department's Waikiki substation.

The blaze scorched the exterior of the hotel, which first opened in 1901, and spread to the substation's walls, roof and eaves, the Honolulu Fire Department said.

An investigation is underway. Police arrested a 43-year-old man on suspicion of arson.

Surfer Theresa Strange told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser she lost two boards worth about $2,000 each. She also lost boards during a similar fire there in February 2020.

She says the emotional attachment is the biggest loss.

Acting Battalion Chief Elden Tanaka told KHON-TV firefighters said the recent fire was bigger than the 2020 one. The first fire damaged more than 500 surfboards.

Black smoke could be seen from miles away Sunday.

“We were just walking along the seafront over there when we saw masses of black smoke," David Thomas, a visitor from England who filmed the fire with his phone, told Hawaii News Now. “It stopped all the action of the beach."

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