Autistic man dies in Kalihi house fire

Autistic man dies in Kalihi house fire
Herbert Nu'uanu III, a.k.a. Moana
Herbert Nu'uanu III, a.k.a. Moana

Friends describe 22-year old Herbert Nu'uanu, or Moana, as a gentle giant.

The Farrington High School graduate died in a house fire Thursday night.  He was autistic.

"He probably was scared," says Hazel Magaoay, who worked in the special needs program at the school.  Magaoay is also his neighbor.  She heard Moana's sister screaming for help about 6:30 Thursday night.

"I grabbed the water hose," says Magaoay.  But it was too late, the fire spread quickly through the home on Kalihi Street, with Moana trapped inside.

"It was untenable," says Honolulu Fire Captain Terry Seelig.  "No one could get out at that point from the front of the house."

And, witnesses say Moana resisted earlier rescue attempts by his 11-year old sister.  Instead, he locked himself in his room.

His body was found about ten feet from his door.

"So devastating," says Magaoay, who says Moana was very sweet, and touched her heart.

Only Moana and his younger sister were in the home at the time.  Capt. Seelig says that may have saved the dozens of others who lived there.  The Red Cross is helping about 30 family members in a shelter.

Investigators have not found the cause of the fire.

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