CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARBULLETIN.COM
A fire engulfed a home at 87-344 Farrington Highway, across from Maili Beach Park, early yesterday morning. No one was injured or killed in the blaze, but it has left parents and their four children without a home. Here, Honolulu Fire Department inspectors cleared the back bedroom area.
4 step in to assist Maili family in fire
Ashley Debeba, 16, awoke yesterday to the horrifying sight of her bedroom curtains on fire.
"I panicked," she recalled. "I pounded on mom's door," and then tried to get her siblings and cousins out of the family home in Maili.
Eleven people were home at the time of the 7:10 a.m. fire at 87-344 Farrington Highway. All escaped safely.
Four men attending a family reunion across the street at Maili Beach Park saw the fire and sprinted across the street to help.
Clinton Kaawa, and his cousins Steven Paling, Toby Lapilnig, and Wade Kamealoha helped pull Ashley's mother, aunt, sleeping siblings and visiting cousins outside to safety.
"You just react," said Kaawa. "I figured everyone was still asleep, it was early in the morning, so I ran over there, went in, there was kids scrambling around, we pulled them out to safety.
"I was waiting for the cars to go, the big bang, the propane tank was there, but it didn't explode," said Kaawa.
All the excitement and the smoke and flames made Paling lose his appetite. "I couldn't eat breakfast afterward, didn't eat till lunch time," he said. But they shared their food with the family.
Ashley, her mother Lani Debeba and three siblings were asleep when the fire broke out. Also asleep and staying with them for the weekend were aunt Loke Kamai and her four children.
Ashley's father Roger Debeba was away on the mainland for a baseball tournament. Roger Debeba had recently been in the news for helping a shark attack victim off Makaha on July 26, grandmother Josephine Torres said.
"We thank the Lord no one got hurt," said Leonora Reavis, a friend of landlord Gloria Akase.
The thick black smoke and flames were noticed by many residents.
"It was the blackest smoke I ever saw," said Patricia Thate, who lives at Maili Beach Park.
"It was real dark black smoke," said Janelle Dereis, a friend of Lani Debeba, who rushed to the scene after her husband saw the fire.
The fire, which was under control by 7:18 a.m. badly burned out most of the house, including the three cars parked in the garage. Two pet birds died in the fire.
The Red Cross is assisting the family.
"She (Lani Debeba) just did the grocery shopping so all that is gone," Torres said, who added that the family's clothes and most of the their belongings were also ruined by the fire.
"The building is heavily damaged. The extent won't be determined until the insurance investigators come," said fire Capt. Terio Bumanglag.
The fire also damaged a shed next door, which was used for showering after the beach.
Neighbor Mary Lono said the Debeba family were well-liked in the community. "It was lovely to see the community come out to help the kids," she said.