Poamoho fire robs community of gathering place - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Poamoho fire robs community of gathering place

Vaeleti Tyrell Vaeleti Tyrell
Chasity Tyrell Chasity Tyrell
Mariefe Uberita Mariefe Uberita

By Jim Mendoza - bio | email

WAHIAWA (HawaiiNewsNow) - When help reached Poamoho Camp Thursday night, the club house on Akau Street was all but gone, reduced to a heap of ashes and charred wood.

"The first company that got here found the building engulfed in fire," Honolulu fire Capt. Terry Seelig said at the scene.

It took firefighters two hours to extinguish.

They trucked in water because the hydrants couldn't supply enough.

About 300 people live in Poamoho camp in 66 old homes. They are survivors of the plantation days.

Mariefe Uberita attended Bible study in the building every Wednesday night.

The wooden structure with the corrugated metal roof housed community meetings, martial arts classes and family parties.

Residents used it a lot.

"Last night when I came out and saw the fire, I wanted to cry," Uberita said.

"I don't want to look at that place. I really don't want to look at the place," Vaeleti Tyrell said.

The 74-year-old retired plantation supervisor attended functions in the building since 1961.

The fire department blames an electrical short in a ceiling light fixture.

The damage estimate is $250,000.

The club house hosted hundreds of gatherings across generations. It was built in the early 1900's.

Tyrell's granddaughter, Chasity, called the old building priceless.

"We all come together under this roof and it just breaks my heart to see it look like this," she said.

The church piano, Bibles and books, picnic tables, and martial arts equipment all burned.

"Board meetings or community meetings, we use this place," Vaeleti Tyrell said. "Now, I don't know where we're going to be."

"It doesn't seem fair. But it might be a good thing. We can rebuild it," Chasity Tyrell said.

It will take time and money to replace the structure that wasn't fancy but was everything to the people at Poamoho.

It was more than a building.

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