Kahuku High School assistant football coach Tommy Heffernan, left, and Babba Kahana helped man the hoses yesterday for firefighters at a fire that destroyed a home on Honomu Street in Hauula.

Quick action keeps
fire in check

Neighbors help fight a blaze that
destroyed a vacant Hauula home

Fire destroyed a one-story Hauula home yesterday morning, but quick action by Honolulu firefighters and community members kept the fire from spreading to other houses.

The wooden house at 54-258 Honomu St. was vacant and under renovation, said Honolulu Fire Department spokesman Capt. Kenison Tejada. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Capt. Ed Kealoha of the Hauula Fire Station said about a half-dozen male neighbors helped firefighters pull hoses and smooth them out.

Keith Meier, who lives directly behind the house that burned, said he was "drinking coffee, getting ready for work" before 7:30 a.m. when he smelled smoke and saw haze in his back yard.

Hauula resident Keith Meier, trying to save his home yesterday from 50-foot flames engulfing a neighboring house, pointed at flaming debris flying down on his and other roofs.

"I ran in and woke up my fiancee and daughter and got them out of the house," Meier said. "Then I ran into the back yard and started trying to put some water on the fire with a garden hose.

"My neighbor was doing the same thing," Meier said. When they realized their hoses were not curbing the growing blaze, they started spraying the neighbor's house to protect it.

Firefighters received the call at 7:26 a.m. and had the blaze under control at 7:43 a.m. Eight trucks and 30 firefighters from Kahuku, Hauula, Kaaawa, Kahaluu and Kaneohe responded, Tejada said.

"They were on it really quick," Meier said. "Once they got there and got their hoses onto the fire, it was under control in a manner of minutes."

Tommy Heffernan, who lives five houses from the house that burned, also praised the firefighters' work as "well executed" and said he was happy to help pull fire hoses to help out.

"It's a natural thing to respond, to try and help out," said Heffernan, a retired prison guard and assistant Kahuku football coach. He also said it was "automatic common sense" to let the professionals do their jobs.

"Sometimes people come out and help us pull hoses, which is OK, as long as somebody (a firefighter) is directing them and it's done in a very safe manner," Tejada said. "We don't want anybody to get hurt. If we think it's unsafe, we'll tell them."

Damage to the house was estimated at $120,000 and $20,000 for its contents, Tejada said.

Meier, who moved into the neighborhood four months ago, said the community spirit was evident in response to the fire.

"It was really cool. Everybody in the community came out of their houses" and checked on each other, he said. "Thank God no one was injured. Stuff can be replaced. People can't."

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