Former policeman's home goes up in flames

Former policeman's home goes up in flames
Craig Vitale
Craig Vitale

By Duane Shimogawa bio | email

KAILUA (HawaiiNewsNow) - Getting called out to the scene of an incident. That's what a former Honolulu policeman is used to doing.

But on Saturday night, he came home to find his own home fully engulfed with flames. Elliott Mattos, his wife and two grandchildren weren't home when the fire started.

They were at a dinner in Waikiki and just before they sat down to eat, a neighbor called Mattos to tell him the tragic news. Mattos and his family have lived in this house for nearly 50 years.

Little did they know when they left for dinner at around 5 p.m., Saturday, it would be the last time they'd see it in one piece.

"I'm surprised that the roof didn't even collapse, but the whole house in burnt," Mattos said.

And it would also be the last time, they'd see their dog, Kiani.

"She was family, she knew how to go in and out of the house, she opened the door for herself," Mattos said.

As he sat down for dinner, his phone started ringing.

"One of our neighbors said, your house is on fire, so everybody rushed out," he said.

When they got home, five engines, two ladder companies and a battalion chief were on scene.

It took them about two hours to put out the fire, which may have started in the patio. Blustery southwest winds helped the fire rip through the home.

At that time, their dog was still missing.

"They didn't know where she was, she was hiding behind the bed where she usually hides, she was gone already, by the time they got to the bedroom," Mattos said.

On Sunday, family and friends sat outside the scorched home as fire investigators sifted through it.

Mattos says he just renewed his home insurance policy two weeks ago. The cause of the fire is still unknown, but neighbors say they heard a loud explosion.

"It sounded like fireworks going off, when I looked up the hill, I thought somebody's setting off fireworks," Neighbor Craig Vitale said.

Some of the contents lost in the fire include family photos, coin collections, a Harley Davidson motorcycle and jewelry.

"It's hard to say, neighbors said they thought they heard a boom or something and I can't think of what may have exploded," Mattos said. "40-something years, everything you've collected, it's gone. Main thing no loss of life, except Kiani, my dog."

The fire caused an estimated $400,000 in damage to the home. Mattos says they're staying with other family members until they find a place to rent. The Red Cross is also helping them out.