MANOA (HawaiiNewsNow) - Investigators are trying to determine what sparked a blaze that destroyed a house in Manoa Sunday. The tenants, two students at the University of Hawaii, were not home at the time.
The fire caused an estimated $200,000 in damages to the first house, and another $50,000 to three neighboring structures.
"Wow," Kaz Wirkus, neighbor, said as he took video of the raging flames and thick black smoke.
Wirkus could hardly believe what he was seeing, as flames consumed his neighbors' home on Sea View Avenue near the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
"It was like a roof fire. It seemed small at the time," he said. "Then the next thing you knew, the entire house was just burning."
Fire officials say their crews were on scene three minutes after the first alarm sounded at 9:14 AM. The two-bedroom house was being rented by a pair of UH seniors.
"I noticed that the guys' cars and bikes were there, so I kind of got concerned that maybe they were still in the house," Matt MacDonald, neighbor, said. "But luckily they're saying right now that nobody was in there."
The three surrounding structures also suffered some damage.
About an hour and 45 minutes after their home went up in flames, tenants Chris Beringer, 23, and James Bishop, 27, arrived. They rushed over from Oahu's North Shore, where they had been enjoying a weekend getaway.
"We had left Friday night and we were just notified this morning around 10," Beringer said. "My weekend was going pretty well until this happened."
"It was pretty devastating," Bishop said. "It was kind of shocking to go from one minute about to go out and get my surf on to finding out that I need to come back in town and see if I can find any of my belongings to salvage."
Fall semester final exams are fast approaching for Beringer, a graphic design student, and Bishop, a geology and geophysics major. They say their textbooks and class notes are among the charred rubble.
"Biggest worry for me is I lost my computer which I do all my school work on, had a bunch of projects saved on there," Bishop said. "You know, I even had it backed up, but, of course, my backup was in the house, too."
"I never thought I would be involved in a fire like this," Beringer said. "It's pretty gnarly looking."
The American Red Cross offered assistance to the fire victims. But Beringer and Bishop say they plan to stay with friends.