Hawaii Fatal Fire Ruled Arson

HONOLULU (AP) -- Evidence of arson found at a house fire where two people were found dead led fire investigators to conclude Tuesday's blaze in Ewa was set.

Autopsies were conducted Wednesday on the bodies, which were burned beyond recognition. The city medical examiner's office hoped to release the causes of death Thursday.

The couple who lived in the house were identified by family and friends as Brenda Mathias, 56, and her longtime boyfriend Lino Viavao, 55.

Mathias is executive director of the community health center Kokua Kalihi Valley.

``Brenda is one of the people that grew up with KKV and she was almost the heart and soul of KKV,'' co-worker Allen Kanno said. ``A lot of us looked to her for guidance.''

Viavao's sister, Bertha Viavao, said her brother became a security officer at Schofield Barracks after retiring from the Army.

Mathias has four children, while Viavao has three.

The fire along Hoopio Street was set in several places, according to investigators who found two empty fuel canisters at the scene.

Neighbors had reported smelling gasoline shortly before the fire erupted, Lt. Bill Kato of the Honolulu Police Department's homicide unit said.

Fire Department spokesman Capt. Emmit Kane had said arson was suspected because the intense fire burned so quickly.

Damage has been estimated at $230,000.

A dog trapped behind a carport gate was freed by firefighters.