Fire damages two Maui homes

Palani Place Fire - Source: Maui Fire Department
Palani Place Fire - Source: Maui Fire Department
Palani Place Fire - Source: Maui Fire Department
Palani Place Fire - Source: Maui Fire Department

MAUI (HawaiiNewsNow) - Firefighters responded two house fires on Maui that occurred just hours apart on Thursday.

The first fire was reported at 12:52 a.m. at 447 Palani Place in Wailuku Heights. Firefighters reported seeing flames as they were leaving the fire station. No one was hurt, but the flames caused major damage for a family of three.

Sebastian Swoveland, 36, returned home to find the three-bedroom house being devoured by flames. After making sure his wife and brother had gotten out, he managed to move three vehicles from the burning garage. He said the intense heat melted his cell phone as he called 911.

"It's heart-breaking, but you just gotta move on. You can't really dwell on things like this or you might break," said Swoveland.

Zachary Zane, who lives in a cottage on the property, rushed outside after spotting the flames.

"It was just like a movie, you know. Explosion, explosions, explosions. This glass right here exploded. I could feel the heat just rising," said Zane.

Firefighters kept the flames from spreading to the cottage and neighboring homes, but Swoveland's family lost most of their belongings.

"The photos and stuff like that, at first it was really hurting me, bothering me, but main thing I have the memories," said Swoveland.

Investigators sifted through the ashes, but it's unclear what sparked the blaze. Total damage is estimated at $450,000 in damage.

"Right now after the investigation, the cause is undetermined. But they kind of know it started in the master bedroom," said Maui County Fire Services Chief Lee Mainaga.

"It could have been a wire. It could have been a dog chewing on something. It could have been a cigarette. It could have been any number of things," Swoveland said.

Swoveland said he's just grateful that everyone survived. He is determined to rebuild the home one step at a time.

"I've lived here basically all of my life. It's all material. It all can be fixed and rebuilt," said Swoveland.

The second fire was reported at 8:25 a.m. on Aholo Road in Lahaina. Fire units arrived to find smoke pouring from the second floor of the two-story wooden home. Mainaga said crews found a mattress on fire in a bedroom, and contained the fire to that room.

Six people live at the home. No one was at home at the time of the fire.  Damage is estimated at $30,000 to the structure and $5,000 to the contents. The cause of the fire is under investigation. Arson has been ruled out.

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