Alert Scouts visiting
Kalaupapa stop blaze

Associated Press

KALAUPAPA, Hawaii >> A group of Boy Scouts visiting Kalaupapa this week on a fishing trip is being credited with saving several homes on the remote peninsula from fire.

"It's a lucky thing they were there," said Richard Marks, the sheriff at the tiny former leprosy settlement. "If it wasn't for those Boy Scouts, I don't even want to think what might have happened," added Marks, who said he could have lost his beach house had the Scouts not responded.

The fire broke out Wednesday night, near the end of Troop 35's annual weeklong visit to Kalaupapa to learn fishing.

While cleaning up after dinner, the Scouts heard a woman cry "Fire!" The boys and their leader grabbed a fire extinguisher and ran outside where they found a pile of lumber ablaze.

"At first we though it was the house," said Sen Uyeunten, the Scout leader. "We used the fire extinguisher and then some of the boys got the garden hose and sprayed it."

Marks was notified of the fire and sounded the community fire alarm, alerting the National Park Service's volunteer firefighters.

"It was a good thing they were there," said Chief Ranger Tim Trainer, who arrived on the scene with four other volunteers. "Those flames could have kicked up and we might have lost a couple of houses."

The cause of the fire has not been determined, but Trainer said an electrical line may have sparked and ignited a piece of insulation that fell into the pile of lumber.

Uyeunten said the troop has been visiting Kalaupapa for 20 years to learn to fish and work on service projects.

"I hope they get a special medal for this," Marks said.

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