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Puna man accused of arson

Police have charged a 26-year-old Puna man who was arrested Monday in connection with a suspicious fire on Friday.

Justin James Clark of Kurtistown is charged with first-degree arson.

At 10:48 a.m. Friday, Puna patrol officers and Fire Department personnel responded to a structure fire on Road 6 in Hawaiian Acres. The fire was extinguished, but not before destroying structure and two cars. A Fire Department investigator determined that the fire was suspicious in origin.

Police say that a sports-utility vehicle was seen speeding away from the scene shortly before witnesses heard popping sounds and saw the house in flames. Hilo Criminal Investigations Section detectives investigated and developed a suspect based on descriptions of the SUV and its occupant.

Clark was arrested Monday at 1:30 p.m. and held at the Hilo police cellblock on suspicion of arson while detectives continued the investigation with the assistance of a fire inspector and a dog from the Hawaii Fire Department’s Arson Canine Team. A search warrant was executed on the SUV and the dog was instrumental in helping detectives recover a flammable substance during the search, polic said.

At 10 a.m. Tuesday, detectives charged Clark with first-degree arson. His bail was set at $50,000. He remains at the cellblock pending his initial court appearance scheduled for today.


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