Fire ravages 2 Moanalua homes


POSTED: Thursday, January 14, 2010

Fire destroyed the Moanalua Valley home where Jean and Gordon Leong lived for 45 years and also gutted a neighbor's house.

Jean Leong, 74, said she felt “;lost”; and “;devastated”; as she stood on the sidewalk near the home where she and her husband raised three daughters.

“;Trying to preserve things, now everything is gone. Memories,”; she said.

No one was injured when the Leongs' house, at 1389 Ala Hoku Place, quickly went up in flames. The roof caved in and the carport crumbled with one car still inside.

The upper floor of the two-story house next door belonging to Ralph and Lori Ah Sam was gutted, and the lower floor was damaged by smoke and water.

Fire investigators estimated damage to the Leongs' house at $370,000, while damage to the Ah Sams' house at 1385 Ala Hoku Place was estimated at $300,000. The Honolulu Fire Department received numerous calls and sent 14 companies to the 2:43 p.m. alarm, Capt. Terry Seelig said. Two federal fire companies were also sent to assist.


Emergency Medical Services personnel treated one preteen boy who had trouble breathing.

Smoke and flames were visible from the main road into Moanalua Valley and from Salt Lake, drawing crowds of valley residents, some checking on friends, like Sue Agena, who walked a half-mile to check on the Leongs after hearing about the fire.

The fire was brought under control at 4:21 p.m. and extinguished at 6:33 p.m.

Jean Leong, who had been visiting a friend at the time of the fire, said she had just completed compiling photographs and videos onto DVDs, “;and now it's all gone.”;

“;Like my daughter said, at least we're not gone,”; she said. “;Those things are gone, but I guess you keep going, and you've got to make new memories.”;

Gordon Leong, also 74, was watering the lawn when he heard what he described as “;pack, pack, pack.”;

Ralph Ah Sam said he heard noises, like something dropping, next door, looked outside and saw fire.

Ah Sam said he was worried about his neighbors and was relieved to learn they were OK. “;I yelled for them, but the flames were so high,”; he said. “;Later, flames were shooting out.”;

He said his house is redwood single-wall construction and he wanted to hose his roof down.

Neighbor Mark Rondot, 35, said he saw Ah Sam trying to water down the side of his house.

“;I was screaming at him,”; he said. “;I went to grab him. I said, 'It's time to go.'”;

He wanted to go inside to get his keys and slippers, but “;I saw the fire had already jumped to his roof,”; Rondot said.

Ah Sam said: “;Main thing, everybody's OK. We can always replace things.”;

The cause of the fire is under investigation.