MAKAKILO (HawaiiNewsNow) - A fire that destroyed a townhouse in Makakilo may have been sparked by a case of domestic violence, neighbors said.
The blaze was reported just after 9:30 p.m. Saturday at the Palehua Gardens town homes along Makakilo Drive. Fire crews were able to control the blaze within a few minutes.
Robert Bishop lives right next door. He said he heard his neighbors fighting near the driveway to their parking lot. He and his family went to break it up.
"The lady was getting beaten up by her husband, so we had to stop them," said Bishop. "We walked him back home, and like three minutes, we heard somebody yelling 'fire!' And then we came running out. His whole place was going up."
"My next door neighbor said they heard a bunch of voices yelling," said John Manion, who lives in the building just makai of the one that burned. "I don't know if that was people yelling, 'Fire, fire!' But when I ran out here, it was really engulfed."
"He was choking his wife and trying to yank his babies. So me and my son ran down for stop him, and when he seen us he just wen' let her go, and so we followed him back," Bishop said.
Manion and others tried to beat back the flames. "We grabbed the fire extinguishers and ran over there," he said, "but then the block of glass (windows) just starting popping, and the fire really started raging out of control."
"The flames already was wrapping around, coming into our lanai already," said Bishop. "So we was up there, shooting it. Guys was down here with their hoses. We broke (out) all the fire extinguishers."
Bishop said the couple and three small children were renting the unit, whose owner lives on the mainland. Residents said the townhouses are generally quiet and are a great place to live, so these neighbors stood out by comparison.
"Get some of the neighborhood kids say that he like make his own drugs, and so now we wondering if he was doing that and the thing wen' blow up," Bishop said.
Bishop and his wife have lived at Palehua Gardens for four years, while the next door neighbors were there less than a year. Bishop said he's heard arguments in the past. "The kids crying every day, screaming 'help.' You don't know what to think, what's going on over there."
No one was hurt in the fire, which caused an estimated $150,000 damage and was contained to the one unit. The cause remains under investigation.
Bishop said his wife drove the woman and children to a relative's home. The man fled the scene.
"(I'm) just waiting for the guy to come back," Bishop said. "I know he going show up." But Bishop said he doesn't know when that will happen.