Sunday, February 17, 2002

A fire investigator headed up the driveway to 45-218 Kokokahi Place where an early morning blaze gutted a home yesterday. Damage was estimated at $250,000.

Dog plays hero
in Kaneohe fire

The family gets out safely after
its pet barks a loud warning

By Lisa Asato

A family pet is credited with saving the lives of its owners when fire destroyed a Kaneohe home early yesterday morning.

"According to what the residents told me, the dogs were the heroes," said Capt. Kenison Tejada, the fire department spokesman.

He said the residents, a husband and wife in their 50s, had just gone to sleep when the dog's barking woke them up and the woman saw flames from a workshop downstairs. The couple fled, closing the door behind them, and the woman had to return to open the door for the dogs, Tejada said.

The couple and two Labradors escaped, but some birds may have perished in the 1:29 a.m. fire, Tejada said.

No serious injuries were reported, but Tejada said the husband's thighs got "a little singed" when he and a neighbor tried to battle the flames with garden hoses.

When firefighters arrived, they found the house fully engulfed, Tejada said. One neighbor, who said she awoke to the sound of an explosion, said flames were 20 feet high.

About 40 firefighters from as far away as Kahaluu responded to the blaze. The home at 45-218 Kokokahi Place is located on a narrow road on a hill and firefighters had difficulty getting access to the home, Tejada said. It took firefighters 30 minutes to bring the fire under control. By the time the fire was extinguished, the roof had collapsed and the home was gutted. Damage is estimated at $250,000.

The fire also caused some heat damage to a neighbor's railing.

Neighbors said about 12 families came out into the street after they were awakened by barking dogs and crackling sounds. Some hosed down their roofs and property and one neighbor set up a picnic table of water and coffee for the firefighters.

The fire was caused by spontaneous combustion of paper towels saturated with linseed oil, Tejada said, adding that such rags should either be stored in an airtight metal container or washed out and hung.

The husband and wife have lived in the cedar home since 1974, Tejada said. The couple refused help from the American Red Cross Hawaii chapter and was staying with relatives, he said.

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