Blaze evictsIt was 4:50 a.m. when Leslie Waggoner heard her neighbor banging on her front door, yelling for her to get out of the apartment at Aliamanu Military Housing.
An early morning fire at
Aliamanu Military Housing
leaves all 12 families homeless
By Rosemarie Bernardo
"When we came out of our bedroom, our whole porch from end to end was in flames," said Waggoner.
Within 10 minutes the apartment was engulfed in flames, she said.
"If we would've waited any longer, we may have not been able to get out the front door," she said.
Waggoner was among the residents of the three-story, 12-unit building at 1219 Milo Place that caught fire early yesterday.
In all, 12 families were left homeless by the fire.
An investigation into the cause of the fire and the amount of damage that was caused is under way, said Stanley Martinez, Federal Fire Department section chief.
More than 40 city and federal firefighters responded to the fire at 4:35 a.m.
"You could feel the heat (from the fire) over here," said Jennifer Rose, whose building is adjacent to the one that burned. "It was pretty intense."
The fire was under control at 5:54 a.m. and extinguished by 12:30 p.m.
"There were a lot of spot fires inside," Martinez said.
The wooden apartment building was built in the mid- to late 1970s, he said. It had no sprinkler system, but smoke detectors were placed in each apartment.
Waggoner, who said she recently had complained to housing officials about the unit's poor condition, said the smoke detector in her third-floor apartment did not go off.
A military spokesman was unavailable for comment yesterday.
When Waggoner was alerted by her neighbor, April Logan, Waggoner's husband, Dustin, grabbed their 10-month-old daughter, Lauren, from her room and left through the front door.
"You couldn't see the stairs," said Waggoner. "It was so smoky."
Security officials shuttled residents to the Best Western Plaza Hotel on North Nimitz Highway.
The American Red Cross, Aliamanu Military Reservation congregation, friends and co-workers and other agencies provided assistance -- including vouchers for clothes, shoes and diapers -- for the 21 adults and eight children, ranging from 7 months to 6 years old.
Logan, who lived in the unit below Waggoner, said she was awakened by the sound of an object breaking.
She suspected it was her cat, Rascal, making the noise. But when she got up, Logan saw the back wall of her home in flames.
Logan said she and her husband, Josh, evacuated. Her cat died in the fire.
The Waggoners kept a gas grill on their balcony. When the fire rose from the second floor, it caused the tank to explode.
"It just blew up," said Waggoner, who stopped by the site after the fire was extinguished.
Helping outThose who are interested in assisting the families can call the Residential Action Office at 833-2232. Monetary donations can be made to:
American Red Cross
Hawaii State Chapter
4155 Diamond Head Rd.
Honolulu, HI 96816
"I still can't believe it," she said. "You work so hard to get what you have, and you lose it so quickly."
Timothy Adam, who lived on the ground floor of the building with his wife, Ayumi, and their two children, Rose, 1, and Joseph, 5, said it was the well-being of his family that worried him more than the damage to the apartment.
"The most important thing was my family," he said. "They can't be replaced."
A meeting between the residents and military officials was scheduled for 10 a.m. today in the lobby of the hotel to determine where each family will stay until permanent housing is made available.