Candles deemed culprits in Big Island house fires

Candles deemed culprits in Big Island house fires

Two separate fires destroyed a house in Hilo and a vacation rental home in Volcano. One of them also injured two people and according to investigators it was an unattended candle that sparked both blazes.

"Things started blowing up, tires and some other stuff that were in the house," said Michael Mederios, who lives nearby.

Mederios lives on Alani Street in Hilo and is neighbors with his brother-in-law. On Sunday morning, he was woken up by loud noises and a bright orange light coming from his relative's house.

"Like three in the morning we started hearing people screaming and just making big noise, so we went look through the window and we seen the fire started off in the living room and was coming out of the windows," said Mederios.

Mederios remembers hearing screams to "call 911," and seeing his neighbors trying to fight the fire with a small garden hose. That's when he raced over to help.

"We all ran down towards the house thinking we could do something about it but the fire was just so fast we had no chance."

Fire officials tell us that the fire was under control within an hour and extinguished just before 7 a.m. Sunday, but not before gutting the home and injuring a man and woman.

"The tenant of the house was getting burnt on his face and side of his head trying to get out of the fire, trying to save the home but it was just too late," said Mederios.

The man was taken to the Hilo Medical Center to be treated for burns and smoke inhalation. The woman refused transportation.

Meanwhile, just five hours earlier in Volcano, flames ripped through a vacation rental called "The House of Bonsai," in the Mauna Loa Estates.

Fire officials say no one was hurt, but residents want their neighbors to be more cautious.

"Maybe people should be more aware of what they do in their house, whether they smoke or use candles," said Mederios.

Damage to the home in Volcano is estimated at $210,000. Damage to the house in Hilo is estimated at $160,000.

Both fires were caused by an unattended candle.

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