Pastor's family flees home destroyed by morning fire


POSTED: Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Family members of a Mililani church pastor are devastated after fire raged through their Mahau Place home yesterday morning, injuring a young woman and forcing three relatives to flee.


;[Preview]    Flames Burn 5-Bedroom Mililani Home

Firefighters are still investigating what caused a morning house fire on Mahau Place in Mililani.

Watch ]



“;I'm so emotional,”; said Roselyn Fautanu, daughter of Iosia Evile, pastor of Samoan Congregational Church of Mililani, in a telephone interview from Fort Lewis, Wash. “;We grew up there. We lived there since 1985. The house meant a lot to us.”;

She said her parents, who are in Western Samoa, are “;shocked, because my Dad built it pretty much from the ground up.”;

Her niece, Carolyn Evile, who lived at the residence at 94-021 Mahau Place, was kept overnight at Wahiawa General Hospital, Fautanu said. The four family members were asleep when the midmorning fire broke out, and all escaped the blaze, she said.

Kamehameha Highway was briefly shut down while 35 firefighters fought the two-alarm blaze, said Capt. Terry Seelig, Honolulu Fire Department spokesman. The call came in at 9:17 a.m., and the fire was under control by 9:33 a.m., he said.

Part of the house—owned by the church—collapsed, making it more difficult for firefighters to extinguish the flames. Damage was estimated at $900,000, including $50,000 to the contents. The cause of the fire is still under investigation, Seelig said.

Fautanu's sister, Sinalu Evile, her husband and her 3-year-old son were unharmed; they were house-sitting while her parents were away. Fautanu's nephew, who also lives there, was at school when the fire occurred, she said.

“;We have so many fond memories, but nothing could replace these memories. Our family is really thankful nobody was seriously hurt,”; Fautanu said.

“;I heard the house is totally lost, with just the front frame standing. My parents are very strong Christians ... but I'm pretty sure he's (her dad) going to be heartbroken when he sees it because it took a lot of years to build,”; said Fautanu, who added her parents were expected to return May 24.

Vanessa Grogan, who was in the neighborhood, ran up to the house to see whether everyone had left the burning building.

“;I was there and saw the flames at the very beginning,”; she said. “;People were just running out. All of them were asleep. The man said he smelled a burning smell. When he woke up, the house was filled with smoke, and the upstairs was already black.”;