Tuesday, January 29, 2002

A fireman surveys the area after a fire this morning destroyed a house in Kaimuki, leaving six people homeless. No one was injured in the early-morning blaze.

Fire destroys
Kaimuki home

By Nelson Daranciang

Fire destroyed a home in Kaimuki this morning, leaving six people homeless.

Four of the six residents were home at the time of the 5:42 a.m. fire at 625A 12th Ave. All of them, including an elderly man in a wheelchair, escaped uninjured.

Keau Curry said he was sleeping in the living room of what used to be the back unit of a duplex when he was awakened by popping sounds.

"I got up and I looked and I saw the fire going. So I got my cousin up and we got our auntie and his grandfather out. We rushed out of the house," he said.

What used to be a duplex had been converted into a five-bedroom, single-family home. Curry's aunt, Carlette Luka said she was sleeping in what used to be the front unit when her nephews woke her.

"They were yelling, 'Get out, get out."

She said she had enough time only to grab her wallet. A nephew helped her 71-year-old father, who gets around in a wheelchair, out of the home.

Nine fire engine companies and a battalion chief were called out to the two-alarm fire. One of the engine companies was a hazardous materials unit that was sent as a precaution, said Capt. Kenison Tejada, Honolulu Fire Department spokesman. The first engines arrived on the scene at 5:46 a.m. and found the home fully involved, he said.

"It went up like kindling," said Curry.

The fire was brought under control at 6:02 a.m., Tejada said, but it took fire crews several more hours to fully extinguish the blaze.

No damage estimate was immediately available and the cause was under investigation.

Curry said the fire started in a bedroom of what used to be the back unit of the duplex. He said the window was open and rain was blowing in.

Luka said the house is more than 50 years old.

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