State briefs 112/13


Arson chars historic Waikiki hotel exterior wall

HONOLULU — A historic Waikiki hotel is partially charred after an intentionally set fire singed one of its exterior walls before dawn.

Honolulu Fire Capt. Terry Seelig said Wednesday the fire was set inside a large trash bin next to the iconic Moana Surfrider Hotel. No one was injured.

Seelig says the flames rose six stories to the roof of a wing added to the hotel in 1918. The blaze broke some first- and second-floor windows.

About 30 firefighters responded shortly before 3 a.m. Starwood Hotels spokeswoman Marsha Wienert says over 1,200 guests evacuated.

The fire never spread inside the building. But sprinklers inside a first-floor coffee shop were activated and caused some water damage.

Honolulu police are opening a first-degree arson investigation.

The landmark hotel opened in 1901.

Inouye slated to remain Appropriations chair

HONOLULU — Hawaii Sen. Daniel Inouye is expected to remain chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

The Democratic Steering Committee on Wednesday released the anticipated committee assignments for Democratic senators for the upcoming Congress. The list is subject to approval by the Democratic caucus and approval of an organizing resolution by the Senate.

Inouye also is slated to remain on the Commerce, Indian Affairs and Rules committees.

Incoming-Sen. Mazie Hirono is expected to serve on the Energy, Judiciary and Veterans’ Affairs committees.

Hirono won the seat now held by retiring Sen. Daniel Akaka.

Group wants Hawaii atolls named Superfund site

HONOLULU — Plastic trash is prompting an environmental group to petition the federal government to name the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands one of the most contaminated places in the country.

The Center for Biological Diversity is asking the Environmental Protection Agency to designate the islands and surrounding waters a Superfund site.

Currents continually carry plastic debris from around the Pacific Ocean to the string of largely unpopulated atolls.

Center attorney Emily Jeffers said Tuesday plastic bags, bottles and other “toxic litter” pollute the area. She says this trash is deadly to seals, birds and other marine life.

The EPA’s Superfund program addresses abandoned hazardous waste sites. Most are former industrial sites.

The EPA says it has received the petition and is looking into it.

Hawaii residents can vote on plane design

HONOLULU — Hawaii residents can vote on an airplane design they believe best represents their culture.

Alaska Airlines is hosting the “Paint the Plane” contest, which features three designs submitted by Hawaii schoolchildren. The three were chosen from more than 2,700 submissions in a contest sponsored by Alaska Airlines, the Hawaii Department of Education and Hawaii Association of Independent Schools.

The designs include a canoe sailing the islands among wildlife; hula dancers against a backdrop of waves and cliffs; and a canoe, the hibiscus and Hawaiian Island chain, with the words: “Spirit of the Islands.”

Voting is open until Dec. 18, and open to Hawaii residents only.

Alaska Airlines says the contest winner will be announced Jan. 10. The plane, with the winning design, is to be unveiled in the spring.