Monday, January 14, 2002

Firefighters had this morning's fire at 2819-A Old Waialae Road under control within 12 minutes.

Waialae Road blaze
leaves 7 homeless

By Nelson Daranciang

University of Hawaii sophomore Kyle Kawafuchi was awakened at 6:55 this morning by someone pounding on his door, yelling at him to get out of his second-floor apartment.

"I just heard banging on the door, and I heard someone yell 'Fire,' " he said.

Kawafuchi said he did not see any smoke or fire when he opened his bedroom door. But he saw flames coming from his roommate's window when he ran outside.

The fire at 2819-A Old Waialae Road left 7 people homeless. It took firefighters about 12 minutes to bring the fire under control. There were no injuries.

Kawafuchi and his roommate, another UH sophomore, had just moved into their apartment last week. He said his roommate had already left for morning swim practice.

It was their neighbor Errol Wong who pounded on his door.

Wong, who lives in the unit below Kawafuchi's, said he smelled smoke about 6:30 a.m. but was unable to find the source. He ran outside to warn his neighbors when he heard someone else yell "Fire."

Peter Allison said he was getting ready for work when he heard Wong pounding on the door of his second-floor apartment next to Kawafuchi's. He said he saw the smoke and ran outside.

But his girlfriend, Eileen Vail, was still inside. Police, who arrived at the apartment before firefighters, went into the apartment, broke down the bathroom door and pulled Vail out of the apartment.

"There wasn't even any smoke in the apartment and they grabbed me," she said, "They didn't even give me a chance to put on any clothes."

Vail said she was wearing only a blanket and felt she had time to leave the apartment without being pulled out.

A damage estimate and the cause of the fire were under investigation. Kawafuchi said his apartment was trashed.

The other two apartments in the complex appeared to have suffered smoke damage.

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