KALIHI (HawaiiNewsNow) - Thanksgiving Day began tragically for a Kalihi Valley man when about a dozen of his cats were killed in a fire at his home. The man suffered minor injuries to his right hand.
Investigators say a malfunctioning fan started the blaze at about 4:15 AM. Neighbors jumped into action to try to help the lone resident and his many pets.
A man in his 70s returned to his fire-stricken home, clearly devastated over the loss of about a dozen of his beloved cats.
"Our pets become part of the family," Frank Yadao, fire victim's landlord, said. "I'm pretty sure things are going through his mind that would go through our minds if it was family members."
The man was sleeping in the living room of the house on Kalihi Street, when one of his cats reportedly alerted him to the fire in one of the bedrooms. Neighbors were also jolted awake by all the commotion.
"It's kind of scary, kind of scary," David Madrid, fire victim's neighbor, said. "So I wanted to call 911, but I heard sirens coming from all over, north, east, south, west, so I said wow."
Rei Alzate's English bulldog, Adoble, woke him up. He says neighbors, who were worried that the resident was still trapped inside, tried to battle the blaze with garden hoses.
"The windows was cracking and popping and breaking," Alzate said. "By the time we got out to the house, the fire had already grown. We tried to go inside, but it was too big to go inside."
The man managed to escape the burning home with two of his cats. Fire officials say 10 to 12 other cats did not make it out.
"There were cats coming out when we were here," Madrid said. "There was one that was like, you know, disoriented."
Firefighters arrived on scene five minutes after the alarm, and say they had the fire under control about 10 minutes after that.
Investigators say a fan in one of the bedrooms malfunctioned, sparking the flames. The fan was plugged in, but was not running at the time.
"They did a good job of getting in there and knocking down the fire and keeping it from extending outside throughout more of the house," Capt. Terry Seelig, Honolulu Fire Department, said.
The fire has been classified as accidental. Damage is estimated at $250,000.