Fire destroys home in St. Louis Heights


POSTED: Thursday, November 26, 2009

Derek Sala, rousted from sleep by his mother, woke up to find the house in flames.

“;I tried to fight the fire. Couldn't. I ran outside,”; said Sala, who was visiting.

The fire destroyed the three-bedroom, one-bath house at 1567 Bertram St. in St. Louis Heights, as well as a car used by Sala.

Fire officials said the estimated damage to the structure and contents was $350,000.

Flames and smoke from the fire were visible from all over the city, fire officials said. Honolulu Fire Department spokesman Capt. Terry Seelig said 35 firefighters battled the blaze.

Firefighters took 41 minutes to control the blaze after the initial alarm at 6:29 a.m. yesterday and more than four hours to extinguish it.

;[Preview]  Fire destroys home in St. Louis Heights

The fire that destroyed a home on Bertram Street could be seen from miles away.

Watch ]


; Seelig said putting out the fire took a long time because the blaze had weakened the foundations and firefighters needed to exercise caution in entering the building. He also said the house was full of items that were smoldering and that firefighters had to use water and foam to douse everything.

Sala said the house belonged to his grandparents before they passed it on to his mother.

The family said the fire destroyed a lot of mementos, including photographs of the grandparents.

The mother, 64, suffered burns to her back and was treated and released from Straub Clinic & Hospital, fire officials said. Firefighters rescued a dog from the back of the house, Seelig said. The dog was not injured, he said.

Sala said he, his wife and two sons were planning to rebuild the house and were saving money for improvements.

Fire officials investigating the cause of the blaze said initial reports indicate it started in the middle of the house.

One firefighter, who was not involved in battling the fire but was on scene as part of a rapid intervention team, was taken to the hospital for observation after experiencing lightheadedness, Seelig said.