Fire wrecks house,
spreads to second
The instability of the debris
slows up the process of
hunting for the cause
Hackbarth gets the callBy Leila Fujimori
Unstable conditions are hampering efforts to determine the cause of yesterday's $130,000 structure fire near the Ward Avenue overpass.
Deputy Fire Chief John Clark said fire and insurance investigators have been unable to enter the gutted two-story wooden house at 739 Kinalau Pl. because the roof collapsed.
"They'll be meeting today to determine what to do," Clark said.
Eleven fire companies responded to the 6:56 p.m. alarm. The fire was reported under control at 7:11 p.m. No injuries were reported.
Wayne Siu, who resides at the address, was not at home when firefighters arrived, Clark said.
Siu returned to the house, owned by his sisters, at about 9:15 p.m.
"I'm very, very happy to see him," said his next-door neighbor, William Riveira.
Neighbor Rodney Edwin ran to the burning house when he smelled smoke.
"I tried to get in, but the fire was too big," said Erwin, a Hawaii National Guardsman.
People in a nearby apartment building said that they heard a loud explosion and saw smoke.
"The whole roof was on fire," said Nani Kahunui, who had spotted the flames from her 17th-floor apartment.
Edwin went to Riveira's house, which was also on fire, and helped an elderly woman outside. Then he grabbed a hose and tried to put the fire out.
Riveira was in the shower when he smelled smoke. He jumped out and told his wife, "There's a fire. We gotta get out of here."
He got his wife, Lynette, 3-year-old son Joshua, his 90-year-old grandmother and two dogs safely out of the burning house, then helped firefighters trying to save his home.
After the fire was extinguished, Riveira entered the house to get milk for his son and found that a quarter of the house had been damaged, mainly the kitchen.
The Red Cross helped the family find a place to stay last night.
But the fire at Riveira's neighbor's house has caused concern among some neighbors.
"The house is real old and had a lot of junk," said Melissa Spinola.
Now she worries about the old wooden house that she lives in nearby.
Kahunui said, "I called the city so many times to tear down that old building. That other one's going to get burned next."
Alan Hackbarth, known to University of Hawaii volleyball fans as the "Rubber Band Man," made his firefighting debut last night. Hackbarth spent three hours fighting a structure fire at Kinalau Place.
Ex-UH player joins
a hot new team
Hackbarth, a former UH football player, described it as being "part of a team."
Hackbarth finished his training with the Honolulu Fire Department in January and graduated on May 13.
How does fighting fires compare to dancing at the Stan Sheriff Center? "That's for fun. This is all business," the lanky firefighter said.
Leila Fujimori, Star-Bulletin