(BIVN) – Law enforcement swept through an abandoned hotel building on Banyan Drive in Hilo early Wednesday morning, resulting in a number of arrests and citations.
At dawn, state and county officers searched through the condemned and dilapidated former Uncle Billy’s Hotel and Resort, resulting in two arrests and ten citations for trespassing.
With flashlights out and weapons at the ready, more than three dozen officers from the DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement, the Hawai‘i Police Department, and the State Sheriff Division teamed up to sweep the three-story building.
The once popular hotel is condemned due of unsafe and unsanitary conditions, and squatters continue to be a problem at the abandoned property.
The Hawaii DLNR, which provided video showing the sweep, says it’s a dangerous building to be inside, with rubbish, human waste, graffiti, hanging wires, and other hazards throughout. Officers wore protective shoe coverings and many used N-95 protective masks.
The building was cleared in less than half an hour and people found inside were brought to the parking lot where they were cited or arrested.
“We deeply appreciate the assistance and coordination with Hawai‘i County Police and State Sheriff’s to conduct a safe operation in a very unsafe place,” said DOCARE Chief Jason Redulla. “We can’t stress strongly enough that anyone staying in Uncle Billy’s is subjecting themselves to serious injury due to obstructions, hanging wires, filthy conditions, and fire. We hope anyone contemplating returning will take this into consideration.”
In March 2022, a structure fire that occurred at same abandoned building. Although no one was present when the firefighters arrived to extinguish the blaze, the fire was believed to be electrical in nature, and possibly due to tampering with an electrical junction box.
The DLNR says it is considering additional security measures at the abandoned hotel site, including perimeter fencing and lighting to further secure the premises from trespassers.
It also says it continues to seek legislative funding to demolish the building, which would cost at least $12.5 million.