Sunday, September 9, 2001

Friday night's fire at 45-453 Makalani St. in Kaneohe

3 fires force
isle residents
out of homes

1 blaze damages 3
homes in Kaneohe,
leaving 18 homeless

By Lisa Asato

In the aftermath of what fire officials say was the most destructive fire this year, some of the 18 people left homeless by the blaze returned to inspect the damage.

"You'd rather get robbed than get burned (out of) your home," said Rolando Bohol, a spokesman for one of the six families who lived on the Kaneohe property. "When you get robbed you still have something left over."

With a fire, he said, "everything is gone."

The fire at 10:23 p.m. Friday burned two houses that shared a roof at 45-453 Makalani St., as well as a neighboring home. Damage is estimated at $535,000. Forty-five firefighters battled the blaze for two and a half hours until they got it under control at about 1 a.m., said fire department spokesman Capt. Richard Soo.

The house at the rear, above, was almost
destroyed, while a house next door is unlivable.

It was the worst of three residential fires reported statewide this weekend. A fire in Mountain View on the Big Island yesterday afternoon left a woman and child homeless and caused $65,000 damage, a fire captain said. Another fire in Tantalus shortly before noon yesterday caused an estimated $95,000 damage to a home on Round Top Drive where two men lived.

Bohol said 11 members of the extended Salcedo family lived in the three-bedroom front house in Kaneohe. They rented the house from the owners, who lived in a house in the back.

Bohol didn't live in the home, but is related by marriage. He said his daughter, Mariella, 5, grew up in the house until she and her mother moved in with him last year. He said his wife and Mariella were there earlier in the evening, but left to visit a sister in Waipahu. An hour after they got there, their mother called to say the house was burning.

Neighbor Clarence Chang said the flames out front looked "like a big volcano erupting."

Neighbors reported hearing explosions from propane tanks in the homes, Soo said.

The fire also spread to the neighboring home of Kameyo Sugioka, 81, and his wife, Alice, 72, at 45-451 Makalani St. Sugioka said they were alerted to the fire by someone knocking on the door, yelling, "Fire! Fire!" He drove his 1981 Chevy Malibu to safety down the street while his wife ran to a house next door, where the couple spent the night.

Firefighters hosed down a house fire yesterday
morning at 3860 Round Top Drive.

None of the five people who lived in the rear house was home at the time of the fire. Those who were home in the front house managed to escape without injury.

The fire started in the laundry room between the two homes, Soo said. Fire investigators were at the scene yesterday morning trying to determine the cause.

The Red Cross supplied the 11 adults and 7 children with clothing and food for the weekend, said Cassy Shinabarger of the American Red Cross Hawaii chapter. The families also will get relocation assistance, including first and last months' rent, she said.

Meanwhile, a 42-year-old man and a 38-year-old man who rented a home at 3860 Round Top Drive that burned yesterday did not require assistance from the Red Cross. A spokeswoman said one of the men told them he is staying with a neighbor and had not yet moved into the home when the fire broke out.

Firefighters arriving on scene reported seeing flames 20 to 30 feet high. Round Top Drive was closed while firefighters battled the blaze, which was reported at 11:45 a.m.

Battalion Chief Craig Matthew said the nearest fire hydrant was two miles away, and that four engines were called in to bring water to the scene.

The fire started in the second floor master bedroom, Soo said. The cause is under investigation. No one was home at the time and no one was hurt, he said.

The fire was reported under control at 12:10 p.m.

The Red Cross also was notified about a fire on Hawaii Street in Mountain View that destroyed a Big Island home where a woman and her daughter lived.

When firefighters arrived, the structure was engulfed in flames. The owner had left the house at 8 a.m. and returned to find firefighters battling the blaze.

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