- Associated Press - Thursday, January 19, 2017

HILO, Hawaii (AP) - Demolition of one of Hawaii’s oldest theatres began Tuesday after a blaze destroyed the property, but the owner says he has plans to rebuild.

The early Monday fire ripped through the Akebono Theater and moved through Pahoa, destroying several businesses and at least four apartment units. No one was injured.

The 100-year-old theatre was a staple in the community and held concerts, plays, comedy shows and public gatherings.

Salvador Luquin owns the theatre and a restaurant that was also destroyed in the fire. He said he has received an outpouring of support from residents and plans to eventually start the businesses back up again.

“My hopes are to get back into Pahoa and start to do business again,” Luquin told the Hawaii Tribune-Herald (http://bit.ly/2jBACCf ).

Dawn Hurwitz previously operated a coffee shop in one of the buildings and was at the site as crews began tearing down the buildings.

“This is like the oldest living soul in this town and now it’s expired,” Hurwitz said.

The fire started in a building next to Luquin’s Mexican Restaurant that was most recently used as a pawn shop, said County Managing Director Wil Okabe.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation, but authorities say they do not suspect foul play.

County officials said the site was inspected before demolition to make sure the area was safe because it is possible the buildings had asbestos or other hazardous materials.

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Information from: Hawaii Tribune-Herald, http://www.hawaiitribune-herald.com/

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