PAHOA (HawaiiNewsNow) - Police are investigating a possible arson case after a suspicious fire destroyed a Big Island home called the "House of Cards" by neighbors.
Residents living on Akanikolea Street in Kalapana Seaview Estates heard loud popping sounds at about 9:15 a.m. on Monday.
"I don't know what started the fire. When I heard that (popping sounds), I came out and it was raging and it just went up. I don't think anybody could have stopped it," said neighbor Jack Hash.
Scott Hansen said he first spotted flames coming from the porch.
"It got engulfed so fast. I was just trying to protect my house because the embers were coming over and hitting little spots on my property," said Hansen.
Neighbors said complaints about the illegal three-story structure have been lodged since 1997, but the owner keeps building more rooms. Property records show a permit for a 272-square-foot storage shed on the parcel owned by Charles Collins.
"It's like something eight-year-olds would build, like a fort, and it just got out of control," said Hash. "Nothing lined up. Nothing was aligned. It had used materials for the roofing that didn't have proper footings."
Authorities say no one was hurt in the fire. Investigators have not ruled out arson. According to Hash, renters had been in the home for the last three weeks even though no one is allowed to live there.
"I can't say I feel bad about it," said Hash. "What I've been through, I'd say divine intervention."
A spokesperson for Hawaii County's Department of Public Works issued a statement that said the plans submitted to bring the structure up to code were returned for corrective action last month.
Hawaii News Now has not been able to reach the property owner for comment.