WAIMANALO and EWA BEACH (HawaiiNewsNow) - Fire investigators are trying to determine the causes of two separate fires that destroyed two homes overnight on Oahu.
According to the Honolulu Fire Department, the first fire happened at about 10:20 p.m. Saturday in the 41-230 block of Huli Street in Waimanalo. Officials said the one-story, single-family home was fully involved in flames when fire crews arrived. The fire was declared under control at 11:06 p.m. The blaze caused $340,000 in damage.
Next-door neighbors considering themselves very lucky, considering that the heat alone caused minor damage to their home.
"We were in the garage, watering (our) roof, and all of a sudden we heard this loud boom, like one bang," said Eki Lafaele. "And then when things started to settle we came out here and the glass just cracked," he said, pointing to a bedroom window that cracked because of the heat. The plastic window frame had melted.
Lafaele said they didn't know the neighbors that well. Authorities said there were six to eight people who lived in the house, which apparently didn't have electricity.
"We know the electric meter was removed and the house was not powered at the time of the fire," said Honolulu Fire Capt. Robert Main.
The second fire was reported at about 12:15 a.m. Sunday at 91-3067 Makalea Loop in the Ewa by Gentry subdivision. Authorities said it appeared that the fire began in the garage and spread to two bedrooms on the second floor. The fire ultimately damaged about 50 percent of the home.
"It was scary. I didn't know if the people were still in there or what was going on. The fire department hadn't arrived yet," said Dustin Messier, a nearby neighbor who shot home video of the blaze.
Three vehicles also were burned in the fire, including an electric vehicle and a high-end exotic sports car.
"The flames were going really high up in the area and that car was on fire here, and everybody was saying, 'Stay back, stay back,' because they thought it was going to explode," said Messier's mother, Beverly Messier.
The fire department said none of the cars started the blaze.
Besides the electric car, the home had a photovoltaic system that complicated matters for fire crews, who had to keep it from producing electricity to the home while they battled the blaze.
"Right now we do have the panels blocked off, and hopefully the house is safe," said Main. "We're still working with that wrinkle. This is one of the first houses that we had with a PV system that is actually operating."
Damage was estimated at $150,000 to the structure and another $150,000 to its contents. The home's five occupants and family dog were unhurt, and are now staying with relatives.