Firefighters cleaned up yesterday following a house fire at 87-1428 Akowai Road in Nanakuli.

Blaze in Nanakuli
destroys 2 homes

A woman goes back into her
burning home for a dog leash

Audrey Bartholomew knew something was wrong when her 5-year-old Rottweiler, Maka, ran out of her Nanakuli living room barking about 6 a.m. yesterday.

When the 76-year-old woman walked into her parlor, she saw that a fire next door had set her exterior makai wall ablaze. Both homes are at 87-1428 Akowai Road.

"I seen the jalousies fall out of my window," she said. "Baby (Maka) was scared and trying to hide."

By then, her neighbors across the way had called the fire department.

Neighbors said the fire may have started in a makeshift garage between both homes.

"It was just a small fire in front of their Ford Explorer that was parked there when I first saw it," said neighbor Leilani Hagmoc. "I called 911 and then when I turned around it was huge, and I said, 'Oh, my God.' I don't know what happened."

Audrey Bartholomew, whose home was destroyed by a fire, was hugged yesterday by Red Cross worker Mindee Miller with Rottweiler Maka looking on.

Neighbors were even more alarmed when they saw Bartholomew going back inside her burning home to get a leash for Maka.

"She almost gave us a heart attack when we saw her go back," Hagmoc said.

Bartholomew said the fire in her unit was not too bad when she re-entered the apartment.

"I didn't want her to get hurt running around, so I got her leash," Bartholomew said. But she didn't get her heart and blood-pressure medication, which were lost in the flames.

Fire Capt. Emmit Kane said going into a burning house to retrieve belongings is ill-advised. He said heat or smoke can easily overcome a victim even if the fire does not look too bad.

The fire, which left Bartholomew and the six adult occupants of the other unit homeless, caused about $250,000 in damage to both homes and a vehicle parked between them.

Fire investigators are still looking into what caused the fire, which they say started in the garage/storage area.

On Nov. 4, 2004, another house fire at this address killed 19-year-old Frank M. Krzyska Jr., who lived in another unit. Fire investigators said that blaze started because of an unattended stove.

Bartholomew's neighbors accepted donations for food and clothing, and are staying with relatives, according to American Red Cross volunteers. Bartholomew will stay at a hotel for three days courtesy of the Red Cross.

The hotel does not allow pets, so the Hawaiian Humane Society will house her dog temporarily while she finds a home for both of them -- hopefully soon, she said, as she watched a Humane Society worker load Maka into a cage.

"My house, whatevers," Bartholomew said. "But my baby. ... I hate to see her go."

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