PEARL CITY (HawaiiNewsNow) – Police and fire crews are investigating the cause of Tuesday's mid-day blaze, which killed a long-time resident of Pearl City and caused an estimated $250,000 in damages.
Fire crews battled the flames that quickly tore through an elderly woman's Pearl City home. Neighbor Ronald Ronquilio, a retired fireman, says he heard an explosion and then grabbed a garden hose when he saw the jet black smoke. Now all he can do is watch.
"She was just all smoke. She had all the windows closed. As soon as I shot the water, some of the water got on the glass. It just popped and the flames came out," Ronquilio said.
Jay Batugo took photos once firefighters arrived. Earlier, he had jumped out of his car and tried to help the person trapped inside.
"I heard somebody screaming. We were banging on the wall and banging on the door. We went to the door and the door was hot. We couldn't do nothing," Batugo said.
Firefighters made the tragic discovery.
"They did a rapid attack. During extinguishment, we found a casualty in the back of the house" said Captain Terry Seelig of the Honolulu Fire Department.
Family members identified the victim as 90-year-old Lillian Sato. They say she was the sole occupant of the house, but was never really alone because she lived right next door to her sister.
"If anything she needed, she would just come right next door. She would come Sunday dinners and every evening she would come and eat with my mother," niece, Sharon Nakamoto said.
"She was such a very pleasant... never dream a fire like that could happen over here," Ronquilio said.
Relatives say Sato and her sister bought their homes at the same time in the early 1950s. The victim leaves behind three adult children and numerous other family members.
Fire photos source: Jay
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