Vehicle destroyed in Lanikai structure fire - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Vehicle destroyed in Lanikai structure fire

Photo Courtesy @Erock808 Photo Courtesy @Erock808

By Ramsay Wharton

LANIKAI (HawaiiNewsNow) -  Lanikai neighbors captured dramatic pictures and video of the inferno coming from the garage of a home located at 884 Mokulua Drive around 5:30 a.m. Monday.

Longtime resident Nainoa Gibson said he was up around 5 a.m. when he heard loud crackling and then a huge boom. He rode his bike around the corner to see what was going on.  

"You could hear it from the road over there," said Gibson. "I live like two houses up . It was a loud explosion and when I came down it was really, really, an unreal noise."

The largest of the explosive sounds may have come from the owner's gutted out BMW sedan that was parked inside the garage.

Fortunately, the homeowner and her family, including her young daughter, escaped unharmed with their dogs.

Neighbors including Gibson were in disbelief of the destruction they'd captured on video.

"It was like really fast," said Gibson. "The fire just started and it was higher than the telephone lines. It was pretty crazy. Then the firemen came down and shut down this whole road."

Honolulu Fire Captain Gary Lum said about 20 firefighters responded to the scene and had it quickly under control.
"They were able to extend some lines and get it under control in about 10 minutes," said Lum.  

According to Lum, a half-hour later, just past 6 a.m., all the flames were out. In the meantime, some people sat in traffic for up to an hour later, trapped in the one-way loop around Lanikai.

"We were stopped for about 45 minutes then traffic started moving," said Rick Nepil of California who's staying in Lanikai. He and his daughter missed a wreck dive Monday morning when they tried to leave Lanikai around 6 a.m.

"About 7 o'clock we pretty much gave up and parked the car right over here and we're just walking down to pick it up," he said. Luckily, Nepil said the dive shop owner didn't charge them for the dive because he understands the problem.

Two fire investigators are looking into the cause of the blaze and they're focusing all of their attention in the garage because that's where all of the damage was done when the flames broke out.  

The homeowner doesn't suspect the car is the cause, because it was a new vehicle, just three months old. There were also no appliances, like a washer and dryer inside the garage as well. Additionally, some visible combustibles like paint cans and a plastic gas container being stored in the garage did not explode.

The homeowner said that BMW actually contacted her early Monday morning, and wanted to know if she was okay. The owner responded, "No, my house is on fire."  The woman said it was possible that fire sensor in the vehicle may have been the very first to alert authorities to the fire.

If that's the case, the BMW safety feature's early response trigger, might just have saved more of the home from destruction because concerned neighbors and even the homeowner complained that they had difficulty getting through to 911 operators.

Fire Captain Lum said he didn't know whether or not the vehicle's safety system was the first to alert emergency responders. In addition, in response to neighbors' dispatch concerns; he also placed an inquiry request to dispatch officials to investigate what went wrong.

The fire at the large beachfront property which is adjacent to the Lanikai beach access is a part of the luxury community in Lanikai, which is known locally for its million dollar homes.

The incident was the talk of Lanikai Monday morning with neighbors stopping by in awe and disbelief at the homeowner's unfortunate turn of events.

Many residents knew that the home was recently being used as the backdrop for a commercial advertising campaign by mainland retailer Pottery Barn. Crews had just wrapped up their work at the home on Saturday.

Total damages are estimated at $310,000.

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