EWA BEACH, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - One person was injured in a three-alarm condominium fire in Ewa Beach Friday afternoon.
The fire was first reported just before 1:30 p.m. in a two-story unit on Kuilioloa Place. Emergency responders say the victim is a 26-year-old man who injured his arm while breaking a window to help people get out.
According to the Red Cross, 15 adults and 4 children living in 9 units have been displaced at the Kulana Village condominiums on the intersection of Fort Weaver and Pohakupuna Roads.
"I came out and saw a big fire. It started first with a small fire and then not even five minutes later it went into this huge fire," described eyewitness Marilou Pintor.
William March lives in one of the neighboring buildings and says he ran from unit to unit warning people to get out.
"I went up to the door and kicked it in. It was breaking jalousies to get in.
We ran in and the first thing we did was make sure nobody was home. We seen the fire already coming through the windows so we tried to use the fire extinguisher. It got too much so I told the guys you know let's get out. It was insane how fast it spread. It was unreal," March described.
Two buildings were impacted, though only one has severe fire damage.
"This was a major fire. It turned out to be three-alarms. With that exposure on the downwind side to the building that had four units, it made things complicated. It was a major deal for us," said Battalion Chief James Perkins.
According to fire officials, 11 companies responded with a total of 45 firefighters and the first team was on the scene within five minutes.
Firefighters were able to knock out the flames in a little over half an hour, but it took them several more hours to complete overhaul, in which they go into the walls and make sure every ember is out and that the fire is cold and dark.
Fire officials say they utilized their CAFS, or Compressed air foam system, to put out the flames. They say the foam cools fire down faster and uses less water so there's less water damage, which also helps preserve the scene for arson investigators.
The cause of the fire is still being determined, but several neighbors reported hearing it was started by an unattended oven.
It's unclear whether the buildings had working smoke alarms. Residents and neighbors reported to officials that it wasn't the sound of a smoke detector that alerted them, but the sound of people shouting and screaming.
Fire officials say it's imperative every home have a smoke alarm and a fire escape plan.
"When emergencies arise they need to get out and report to a place that they can account for each other so it makes our job easier because we don't have to go into the structures looking for people who may not be there," said Battalion Chief Perkins.
The Red Cross is assisting all families who've been displaced and have nowhere else to stay.