A fire destroyed a Waipio Acres home early yesterday, killing a 74-year-old woman. The woman's husband was also in the home at the time, but escaped uninjured.

House fire kills
woman, 74

Witnesses say the victim
went back inside to save a pet

A 74-year-old woman died early yesterday after running into her burning Waipio Acres home to save a family pet, witnesses said.

Neighbors identified the victim as Elaine Kahiamoe. Her husband, William Kahiamoe, was also in the home at the time of the blaze. He was uninjured.

"She ran back in," said Bill Leong. "She didn't have a chance in there. ... The flames were so intense."

The fire at 95-149 Wailawa Place started about 3:30 a.m. when Elaine Kahiamoe and her husband, also in his 70s, were asleep.

Firefighters said Elaine Kahiamoe woke up because she smelled smoke and then woke her husband, who tried to fight the fire. The fire spread fast, engulfing the home in flames within 10 minutes.

Neighbors said the couple was able to get out of the house. But the woman ran back into the home to get her pet.

At that point, flames as high as a nearby 20-foot utility pole were sprouting from the home's rooftop.

The fire also spread to a nearby home, whose back awning sustained some damage.

Firefighters got to the home at about 3:32 a.m. and had it under control within 25 minutes.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation. An estimate of damages to the home or its contents was not available.

At the Kahiamoe home yesterday, family members put together a small memorial for Elaine Kahiamoe. There were balloons, a plant and a plush toy dog.

The quiet Mililani cul-de-sac where the couple lived for decades was shocked by Kahiamoe's death. Many said the mood in the neighborhood yesterday was somber.

"How come it happened to her?" asked one neighbor, who identified herself as Susan. "It was just so terrible."

Kahiamoe is the 13th Oahu resident to die in a structure fire this year.

Of those, eight were killed in fires that were intentionally set. Another four died in accidental fires.

The Mililani blaze is the second house fire in as many days.

In McCully on Friday, an Algaroba Street home was destroyed when a fan likely short-circuited. No one was injured in that early morning fire, but three people were left homeless.



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