Firefighter injured battling Kailua house fire

Firefighter injured battling Kailua house fire
Source: Google Maps
Source: Google Maps

KAILUA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A raging house fire on Kaha Street shocked Kailua residents just before 10:30 Wednesday morning.

Hawaii News Now photographer Darin Akita captured the fiery scene on his iPhone.

He was driving by, saw smoke, and pulled over to warn a woman in the house.

He explained what happened, saying "I went up to her and said your house is on fire, you've got to get out. She didn't know. She said 'Oh My God. Everyone started screaming the house is on fire.'"

Neighbor Linda Holt said, "I heard some yelling outside and I looked out the window and there were flames coming out the bedroom window."

Two good Samaritans raced to pull the elderly homeowner to safety. "They pulled a woman out who lives there, She's 96" explained Holt. "They had to drag her out sort of."

The first firefighters arrived 6 minutes after the call came in, but, according to HFD Acting Battalion Chief Damien Kahaulelio, "It's a single wall older home so they tend to go a little quicker."

Another issue? Live wires across the road. "Upon arrival one of the wires was down across the road" said Kahaulelio. "Later another wire fell and so they were across the road."

Hours after the fire was extinguished, Michelle Toribio cried as she looked at what was left of the home where she grew up.

"All my childhood memories are basically in this house from when I was born, so that's all gone. Everything is gone," she said.

A second residence that the family rented out also was damaged by the fire.

While investigators examined the blacked rubble, Toribio explained what may have happened when her mother was doing some housecleaning.

"I guess she plugged in a vacuum and she heard a spark, and then she smelled smoke, and then shortly after it started flaming from the electrical cord," said Toribio.

The home is a total loss, but Toribio's mother, uncle and great-grandmother made it out safely, and the tight knit community is pulling together to help.

"She was happy they were able to get everyone out and no one was hurt" said Akita. "The fire was fast. The house just went."

Holt added, "One of the young fellas who helped bring her out reached into his wallet and gave her some money to help replace clothes. He didn't even know her. Very touching."

The Red Cross is assisting the residents.

No word on a cause yet. Damage is estimated at $150,000

One firefighter was injured, but luckily we're told the burns were "minor."

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