Family that lost everything in Wahiawa fire faces homelessness

Family that lost everything in Wahiawa fire faces homelessness
Lambert Kanakaole with daughter Cherise in a hotel room
Lambert Kanakaole with daughter Cherise in a hotel room

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The members of the Kanakaole family say it took less than 15 minutes for a house fire to take away nearly everything they had. Ten days later, they're up against a deadline to find a new place to stay.

Kathy and Lambert Kanakaole and their daughter have been staying in a hotel room at the Best Western near Honolulu airport since Nov. 3. That's when the fire swept through the Wahiawa home that they'd been renting for the past two years.

A surveillance video shows Lambert Kanakaole being wheeled out as flames begin to consume the upper floor of the house.

"It was devastating for me," he said. "When we came out, I looked -- I knew what was going to happen."

The Kanakaoles barely had time to grab their valuables, or much else.

"Just a container of his medicines that I could grab," said Kathy Kanakaole. "Me and my daughter didn't even have slippers. Whatever we were wearing, that's what we have."

Lambert Kanakaole has diabetes and had his right leg amputated last year to save his life. Kathy Kanakaole also has health issues, but has been taking care of her husband. The fire destroyed his hospital bed and a special lift to get him in and out of his wheelchair.

The couple were able to afford the Wahiawa home with their daughter's salary, plus Social Security and food stamps. All they want is another place to rent, which is a challenge with Lambert's health needs.

"It's just really, really difficult to find a place that we can afford, a place that's on the ground level where a wheelchair can go in and out," said Kathy Kanakaole.

The American Red Cross gave them a voucher for the hotel room, and other donations of food, supplies and money have come in. But the money for the hotel room will run out on Tuesday, and there's nothing lined up after that. Kathy Kanakaole feels they are on the edge of becoming homeless.

"Tuesday comes -- I mean, I can probably survive on the street and my daughter, but not him, you know," she said. "Where is he gonna sleep? He can't get out of the chair."


A family friend has started a GoFundMe page to help with their expenses and to find a new place to live.

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