Man killed in large Kalihi house fire

KALIHI, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A fire that engulfed a three-story home in Kalihi claimed the life of a 22-year-old man Thursday night.

According to the Honolulu Fire Department, the blaze was first reported at 6:35 p.m. on Kalihi Street just makai of Ema Place.

Flames were clearly visible as crews arrived to battle the two-alarm fire, but the home was destroyed.

Some passers-by stopped to try to help. At least three entered the burning home to try to save the man.

"There was this girl, saying, yelling, yelling, 'my brother's in there, he's autistic!'" said James Ubias, who saw the flames while driving home. He said two other people got out of their cars and ran toward the house.

"We went kick the door, but never have nobody," said Jack Roberts. "The fire caught us up there. We heard somebody coughing on the third floor."

"We couldn't break the door. The thing was locked. We couldn't get in. And then at that point the fire, just totally like engulfed where we first tried to break in, and then we couldn't do nothing," said Ubias.

"The fire victim was found in the second level, approximately 20 feet away from the door," said Honolulu Fire Department spokesperson Capt. Terry Seelig.

A neighbor who declined an on-camera interview said the victim had been in special education classes at Farrington High School a few years ago.

Up to 20 people lived in the home, which neighbors said was separated into different rental units. They were put into a shelter by the American Red Cross.

Three adjacent homes were evacuated as a precaution, but were not damaged. A few homes in the area were also left without electricity when the fire damaged power lines.

Investigators have not yet determined what started the fire.

Click here for video of the fire on Hawaii News Now's Facebook page.

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Copyright 2013 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.