Caregiver helps woman, 86, escape blaze
A huge fire rips through and destroys the Maunawili home
Even as flames shot into the sky from her wood-and-brick ranch-style home, 86-year-old Virginia Fine wanted to go back in to save items and even to turn out the lights, her son-in-law said yesterday.
Bob Onopa credits Fine's live-in caregiver and companion, Mirna Stoll, 49, with helping his mother-in-law get out of the burning house alive and keeping her from going back.
Fine had lived in the Maunawili home since the 1950s, Onopa said.
The fire at 1042 Maunawili Loop was reported at 2:38 yesterday morning and was not brought under control until 3:11 a.m., the Fire Department reported. It demolished the structure. Nothing was left yesterday but burned rubble.
"It (the fire) was huge," said neighbor Merrill Johnston, pointing to two 30- to 40-foot-high coconut trees blackened by the blaze. "They (the trees) just exploded, sending coconuts off like burning missiles."
Onopa said a pickup truck with several men from Waimanalo stopped to see if they could help. But he said the fire was too intense for them to get near the home.
For several anxious minutes, Onopa said they were not sure what had happened to Fine and Stoll, who were trapped downslope on the property below the burning house and had to make their way around the fire to get to safety.
"You couldn't get there (to the house)," Onopa said. "Even the grass was burning."
Fine and Stoll sustained minor injuries and were taken to Castle Medical Center for treatment, said Fire Department spokesman Terry Seelig. Both were back at the home yesterday morning, along with fire investigators who were trying to determine the cause of the blaze.
Seelig said yesterday that the fire started in the living room. Investigators were still working on determining the cause and estimated damage of $500,000 to the structure and $50,000 for contents.