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Fire Fire investigation underway

Coco Palms blaze completely extinguished Saturday, still no estimate on damages

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Posted: Sunday, July 6, 2014 2:00 am

LIHUE – The fire at Coco Palms Resort that broke out Friday was mostly extinguished Saturday, Kauai County officials said. 

Fire inspectors are investigating the cause of the blaze. The main lobby and adjoining offices of the resort were totally destroyed and the breezeway of a connecting building was badly burned in the fire that broke out shortly before noon and was mostly contained by 2:15 p.m. that same day. No estimate of the damages is currently available, the county said.

Twenty-four firefighters battled the fire, including three recalled firefighters who spent the night at the resort in case of flare-ups. No injuries were reported.

The resort is owned by Prudential Insurance. Coco Palms Hui, LLC has plans to rebuild it. Coco Palms Hui, LLC Principal Tyler Greene has estimated it will cost about $125 million to rebuild, which includes purchasing the land from Prudential Insurance. It was badly damaged by Hurricane Iniki in 1992 and has stood vacant and deteriorated since.

The fire erupted one day after a Facebook post that appeared on the resort’s page called for exactly that.

“Best thing we could do is get 1,000 gallons of gas and burn it down,” the post written by Kapaa resident Kimo Rosen read.

Rosen said he wrote the post on someone else’s Facebook page and said the timing was eerie.

“It was coincidence and eerie timing that the Coco Palms would go up in flames after making the comment,” Rosen wrote in a statement. “I have learned from my mistake and will not be commenting anymore on any Facebook pages besides those I know personally. I am thinking of not commenting and just sticking to the “Like” button. I am truly sorry, especially to (Coco Palms care taker) Mr. Bob Jasper. I would never consider such an evil act as arson. The irony is I hate fireworks and anything that has to do with fire. I consider myself an honest man and could never live with myself if I was ever part of anything so destructive.”

Rosen was a contributing columnist for The Garden Island. His column has been suspended in light of recent events.

“I have learned and hope to pass this on to everyone, that words are powerful and should be measured carefully,” he wrote. “Mahalo for giving me this space to express myself. Thank you TGI and my apologies to the Mr. Bob Jasper and the Coco Palms community.”

Motorists first spotted smoke rising from the property on Kuhio Highway across from Wailua Bay.

A visiting family alerted the authorities to the blaze.

The wire fencing surrounding the decrepit structures were erected as a result of the hotel being non-operational for over two decades. Fire and police personnel cut the fencing around the building to allow closer access for the fire trucks as they battled the blaze in humid, 86 degree weather.

Two large excavators were brought to the resort Saturday to tear down the main lobby and adjoining offices and move the rubble around.

Jasper said it was the second time a blaze has broken out at the historic site in the last 5 years.

A late night fire in 2009 occurred in the retail space which used to be the beauty shop on the second floor of the building. Because there wasn’t electricity on the property, arson was suspected.

“It apparently was caused by a person,” he told The Garden Island. “It was never resolved.”

© 2016 Thegardenisland.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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  • MichaelMann posted at 11:43 am on Sat, Jul 12, 2014.

    MichaelMann Posts: 545

    Are you the broken clock, Mr. Parx?

  • Andy Parx posted at 11:24 am on Mon, Jul 7, 2014.

    Andy Parx Posts: 301

    OMG- just kill me now- I agree with Chuck. I guess the "even broken clock is right twice a day" saying applies.

  • bellachefa posted at 6:52 am on Mon, Jul 7, 2014.

    bellachefa Posts: 72

    Kudos to Kimo for taking the high road and manning up for his poorly chosen words. Seems a shame he is the only one who turned his actions and words into a teachable moment of self reflection. Your apology and sincerity are clear.

    In all honesty Mr. Hasslinger, your reporting is sloppy. Too many vague comments to interpret. Rossen was called to task, but the whistlblower who forwarded his off the cuff comments was not. Was Mr. Rosen suspended because someone forwarded his tactless post to the hotel site? Or other recent events?

    As for the caretakers comments, it was irresponsible to use his quote on arson whether then or now. Wouldn't a comment from the fire chief be more appropriate. This type of lazy reporting is like throwing gasoline on the fire.

    Yet another reason to avoid facebook and twitter.

  • talktrue posted at 3:33 am on Mon, Jul 7, 2014.

    talktrue Posts: 181

    No, Andy, you never apologize for the stupid, libelous, false, ugly, unfunny things you write, you just keep churning it out. How unfortunate. It's called personal responsibility and accountability.

  • PeteAntonson posted at 9:08 pm on Sun, Jul 6, 2014.

    PeteAntonson Posts: 3120

    What is it about Kauai these days that lynch mobs form before any proof of harm or anything at all presents itself.
    Lynch mobs formed to get Biotech Companies without any proof of misuse of pesticides or any proof of harm done that could even be linked to proper use!
    Lynch mobs formed to get a Dairy that doesn't even exist yet based on imagined and extrapolated figures that look impressive; but, have no basis in reality!
    Lynch mobs formed to get a ship on the monstrously ignorant and preposterous premise that a single ship could "destroy the Island;" even though it was the only one of many ships that arrive that had plans to mitigate threats!
    Lynch mobs formed to get Kimo, who repeated, as Chuck pointed out, a commonly stated premise that fire would be a quick and easy solution after 22 years. I disagree with the premise; but, I'm never going to join lynchers who decide before they even know what's happening!
    Thank goodness Kimo was with his housecleaner all during that morning (because he's disabled and needs help with that chore and any lifting etc. etc.!).
    We already have FB comments saying "Why'd they put the fire out? They're anonymous and therefore immune to the lynch mob!
    I agree with tenpin that the apology was noble and done well!
    Let's move on!

  • billyjoebob posted at 8:33 pm on Sun, Jul 6, 2014.

    billyjoebob Posts: 1337

    Gosh outofhere, as soon as I saw Kimo's name I just had blame him. I mean it said so right?
    Even if some one, or the paper, or the internet came outright and said it was Kimo, I would want actual proof.
    He may come off a bit different at times but doubtful he likes burning down old buildings.
    Did you even read the comments?

  • tenpin posted at 7:42 pm on Sun, Jul 6, 2014.

    tenpin Posts: 340

    outofhere, there is nothing in the story "blaming" Kimo.

    Kimo is an entertainer, and has made himself a minor "celebrity" over the years by his goofball opinions like supporting plastic bags that formerly littered the island like rainwater.

    This time, he made a comment that the TGI management apparently decided was inappropriate for someone associated with the paper, and temporarily "suspended" him; they slapped his naughty wrist.

    Meanwhile, to his credit, Kimo took his comeuppance like a man and apologized.

    When you become a celebrity, everything you do can be analyzed and criticized. That's the price you pay for living by your mouth and throwing out off-the-wall opinions to call attention to yourself.

  • outofhere posted at 4:41 pm on Sun, Jul 6, 2014.

    outofhere Posts: 650

    Has it occurred to anyone that the fire may have been accidentally started by homeless individuals looking for shelter? Or bored teenagers, out of school for the summer with nothing to do? Shame of Kauai for blaming Kimo...although with the numerous nut jobs on the TGI comment section, who is to say one of them didn't run with the idea, which of course was made in jest.

  • tenpin posted at 4:12 pm on Sun, Jul 6, 2014.

    tenpin Posts: 340

    If ChuckL is correct about the timeline, then it's time for TGI to step up and clear the matter up.

  • tenpin posted at 2:04 pm on Sun, Jul 6, 2014.

    tenpin Posts: 340

    Kimo, congratulations on stepping up and apologizing for your retarded comment about burning the place down. My respect for you has risen. Lesser people might have tried to claim they were "misquoted" or misunderstood.

  • tenpin posted at 1:53 pm on Sun, Jul 6, 2014.

    tenpin Posts: 340

    Relax, Deborah. The story does Not "suggest that Kimo was responsible for starting the fire." It merely points out the unfortunate sequence of events: Kimo shot off his mouth, and the next day the fire happened.

    Also, had you read the entire story, you would have seen that Kimo took the situation like a man: he apologized; didn't try to claim he was "taken out of context" or misquoted. He took the adult route, to his credit ... and your lame jumping to his "defense" makes you look ridiculous. What happened, happened, and Kimo owned up to it.

    As I said earlier, live by the mouth, die by the mouth.

  • ChuckL posted at 1:03 pm on Sun, Jul 6, 2014.

    ChuckL Posts: 70

    The story is not accurate regarding James Kimo Rosen's post. He posted his comment to a personal Facebook timeline on July 1st in response to that person's anti-development post. After the fire began, Bob Jasper posted a screen shot of the comment on the resort's Facebook group. Kimo did NOT post on the resort's group on Facebook at all, and the screenshot did NOT get posted on that group the day before the fire, as you stated.

    You would think TGI would have enough loyalty to an unpaid columnist to at least investigate the truth instead of copy and pasting from your parent company's website. Kimo is a good man who made a sarcastic comment on a friend's Facebook timeline. And it's a comment that gets thrown around on Kauai on a regular basis - "just burn it down." Who among us could withstand full scrutiny of every comment we post on Facebook? Who among us would be happy if a single off-hand comment was pulled from a friend's timeline and featured in a TGI article with incorrect details?

    Kimo has been an outspoken supporter of TGI through thick and thin. He made an off-hand comment 3 days before the fire and since apologized. Suspending his column shows the complete lack of aloha of this paper. Aloha includes standing behind your friends, your ohana, and, in TGI's case, your contributors. Shame on you.

  • Andy Parx posted at 12:11 pm on Sun, Jul 6, 2014.

    Andy Parx Posts: 301

    Oh please- leave Kimo alone. I'm not exactly Kimo's #1 fan but if I had said something similar I would not be apologizing, I'd be putting up my "Psychic For Hire" shingle.
    The only sin in the writing of a joke is that it's not funny.

  • tenpin posted at 9:02 am on Sun, Jul 6, 2014.

    tenpin Posts: 340

    Live by the mouth, die by the mouth.

  • drsurf posted at 7:15 am on Sun, Jul 6, 2014.

    drsurf Posts: 51

    With the condition of the property and the undetermined use of it, I do not understand how the County and the State allow businesses to be run out of that place.

  • dmorel posted at 6:48 am on Sun, Jul 6, 2014.

    dmorel Posts: 1096

    It is difficult to believe that newspaper stories would ever emerge suggesting an innocent person is responsible for starting a fire at Coco Palms Hotel, and because of a comment that was "Facebook shared" from one FB newsfeed to Coco Palms Hotel's FB page. What damage has been done to Kimo Rosen; this is incredibly undeserving...and further.

    Coco Palms is a bear thread wooden 60 year old structure/abandoned for over 20 years. Coco Palms Site Manager, Mr. Bob Jasper, is quoted by Honolulu Star Advertiser to state, in effect that "there was no electricity in the Coco Palms Hotel, so there could be only one cause--someone set it (the fire).

    However, according to US FEMA, there are nearly 100 reasons for spontaneous fire in wooden structures, and that "the cause of fire involves a complex chain of events."

    More sinister is perhaps arson is the cause, motivated by anti-American sentiment. Is it a coincidence that the fire occurred on Independence Day, 4th of July? A question perhaps worth considering.

    For certain, Mr. Kimo Rosen is not anti-American, and even more certainly, innocent of such outrageous suggestions of being involved in arson. This is just too much to believe, and incredibly unfair.

  • dmorel posted at 4:57 am on Sun, Jul 6, 2014.

    dmorel Posts: 1096

    This suggestion that Mr. Rosen could possible be responsible for the FOURTH OF JULY fire of "controversial Coco Palms Hotel" is outrageous, and hurting an innocent person. This is beyond me that recent stories got by, and a finger being pointed in the direction of a person because--of all things--a Facebook comment. Are reporters aware that there are proven criminal profiles for an arsonist? Please, do your homework. Mr. Rosen fails the tests. He has no hint of personality that resembles that of an arsonist.

    I could set my watch to Mr. Rosen's daily schedule that runs like a Swiss watch. Kimo is always visible in the community, tooling about on his bike, with his pup trotting by his side, and talking story with neighbors. Mr. Rosen is part of the Kaua'i community.

    There are many possible causes for spontaneous fires (USA FEMA lists near 100) in an abandoned wooden, thatch roof structure that is now 60 years old--Coco Palm Hotel opening on January 25, 1953.

    This same structure has been abandoned since 1992--over 20 years, and for years has become only more dilapidated, and deteriorating. In 2011, from afar, I witnessed what was speculated a small brush fire in the Coco Palms Hotel property. How did this happen? This property is a fire hazard.

    Yet, in spite of all of these facts, Honolulu Star Advertiser--in a story to this fire, quotes Site Manager, Mr. Bob Jasper stating to the effect, "There is no electricity down there (in Coco Palms Hotel). There can be only one cause--someone set it." Is Mr. Jasper an expert on structural fires? Is this the right person to be making such a statement to this fire? This personal opinion of Mr. Jasper's put to ink and publication could be prove inflammatory.

    It is unbelievable that the fact a comment was posted on FB the day prior to a fire in an abandoned, neglected structure, could ever lead to this person's name appearing in any newspaper with suggestions this person is a suspect, and suspended employment follows.

    I wonder about this comment that was on FB and to the Coco Palm fire. Does the owner of this comment warrant the same--or more--attention that Mr. Rosen has received?

    FB WailuaXXX WaterXXX "burn baby burn!!! whoopwhoop...Kupuna Iwi resting easy..."

    Yesterday at 7:47am · Like

    Deborah Morel Arson?

    Yesterday at 8:02am · Like · 1

    FB WailuaXXX WaterXXX "the understatement, arson!!!! most definitely, n e 1 who knows the contentious issues surrounding this site KNOWs this is an inside job ARSON!!!"

    Yesterday at 8:03am · Like · 1

    Are any alarms ringing for anyone...including newspaper reporters, this comment implying that the fire is absolutely arson, an inside job, there are people who know who committed the arson, and finally, to "burn baby burn!!!"

    Consider the controversial, emotionally charged bi-polar opinions about this property on which Coco Palms sits-and as tones note in the above comment. Please, consider the fact that perhaps this fire was not ignited due to a "precursor" comment on a social site like FB, but perhaps that this fire fell on the day of July 4th, Independence Day. Was this an act of anti-American sentiment?

    If pointing fingers is on the agenda, never mind about the "eerie timing" of a public social site comment. However, think twice, and consider the significance of July 4th. Was this really a coincidence? Perhaps, perhaps not.


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