killed by blaze
Friends and relatives were unable
to rescue the fire’s lone victim
Five family members escaped through a door or a window from a fire that destroyed a Kaneohe house and killed a 12-year-old girl early yesterday.
Honolulu Fire Capt. Emmit Kane said the victim's parents and brother were asleep in one bedroom when her father awoke to popping and crackling sounds. Soon after, he observed a glow through his bedroom window.
The father rushed to the girl's bedroom, but the smoke and heat were too intense, Kane added. The victim's family members escaped through the kitchen door while her aunt and cousin broke a window to escape, he said.
Thirty-five firefighters responded to the fire that engulfed the three-bedroom home at 45-324 Kulauli St. at 3:26 a.m. The blaze was under control at 3:49 a.m. and extinguished at 4:47 a.m.
A couple, their 9-year-old son and the 12-year-old daughter resided at the home with the victim's aunt and her 7-year-old son.
Family members consoled and hugged each other as they stood outside a relative's home that is nearby.
The victim was found in her bedroom at the rear of the home and pronounced dead at the scene, Kane said.
The victim's father and neighbors told investigators that the fire came from the rear area of the home, said Kane.
Damage is estimated at $180,000 to the house and contents. Fire and police officials are continuing their investigation to determine the cause of the fire, said Kane.
CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARBULLETIN.COM
Fire damage to the three-bedroom home at 45-324 Kulauli St. yesterday is estimated at $180,000.
The American Red Cross assisted the families with food and counseling. Both families will be staying with friends and relatives.
Smoke alarms in the home did not go off, said Kane.
Kenneth Seabury, who lives next door, said he and his wife, Beatrice, heard the victim's father calling out his daughter's name.
"To lose a life so young, it's tough," said Seabury.
The victim's aunt described her niece as a sound, heavy sleeper, said Seabury.
He called 911 when he saw the fire. His wife grabbed a garden hose in an attempt to put out the fire and wet down the left side of their home. The Seaburys and other neighbors evacuated after the fire grew larger.
Seabury said the victim's family moved into the Kulauli Street home in May and were making improvements to it after it had been left in disrepair.
Identification of the 12-year-old girl has yet to be released by the Medical Examiner's Office.
Neighbor and friend Darren Yokotake said he tried to go into the house, but the flames prevented him from entering.
"The flames were through the roof already." said Yokotake. "All I can do now is comfort them."
"This is a sad and tragic event," Kane said.
He advised residents to test their smoke alarms and change batteries if necessary. Kane also recommended residents to develop an escape plan should a fire occur.