Deadly house fire on Bachelot Street

Source: Jeff Fujimoto
Source: Jeff Fujimoto

LILIHA (HawaiiNewsNow) - An early morning fire claims the life of an elderly woman. The flames broke at 4:30 this morning in Liliha.  Firefighters found the victim in a back bedroom.  She died later at the hospital.

Fire investigators have been working all day but don't expect to know what caused the fire until tomorrow.

Neighbors near Bachelot and Bates Streets woke up to huge flames coming from the house on the corner.

"It was pretty large, when I was standing on the corner I could feel the heat from the fire," said Jeffrey Fujimoto, witness.

Firefighters were on scene by about 4:45 and the woman who lived there had not come out yet.

"The boy that stays next door he was with the dog so I said, 'hey did Karen come out? I haven't seen Karen? He said no he didn't see Karen,'" said Alfred Matsumoto, neighbor.

He notified officers and firefighters eventually carried the victim out of the house.  They worked to revive her in a front yard.  She died at the hospital.

"Then to find out that somebody was inside. That gives you that feeling of helplessness because when you're here you feel like what could I have done. You really can't do anything without the right equipment," said Fujimoto.

Neighbors identified the victim as Karen Chikamori.  They say she was a nurse at Kuakini Medical Center down the road.  After retirement she would walk up and down the sidewalk often.  She lived alone but her immediate neighbor acted as a caretaker.  He's on vacation on the mainland.

"She was a nice lady. She kept to herself," said Matsumoto.

Chikamori didn't drive anymore but there were several vehicles and a boat people stored on her property, two of which were destroyed.

A church also met for prayer services downstairs below the house.

Fire investigators are still working on a cause.  It's unknown if there were working smoke detectors inside or why she wasn't able to get out of the house on her own.

"I wouldn't want anybody to pass away in circumstances like this," said Matsumoto.

Firefighters estimate about $200,000 in damages.

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