The Honolulu Fire Department is investigating the cause of a two-alarm fire at a townhouse complex that displaced 21 people early Tuesday in Waianae.
HFD Capt. David Jenkins said more than 30 firefighters responded to the fire on Ala Walua Street around 4:05 a.m. They arrived to a two-story, multi-family townhouse that was heavily involved in smoke and fire.
Martin Hunt awoke to the smell of smoke. He opened the bedroom door to check downstairs.
"All the flames were up from the kitchen to the dining room. I ran back upstairs and I got my kids," said Hunt.
His wife had already left for work so he quickly wrapped towels around his two young daughters to protect them.
"I was so nervous and I wanted to make sure everything was okay. I grabbed them both. I had my oldest daughter and my youngest daughter in my arms. We came down and ran out the back," he explained.
Hunt started yelling to warn his neighbors to get out of their homes.
"It was terrible. Big flames. Plenty smoke. We were terrified," said neighbor Gilbert Medeiros.
The flames also destroyed a neighboring townhouse where five people lived. On the other side of Hunt's home, a family of 12 shared a four-bedroom unit. The family members returned hours later to collect some of their belongings. They planned to split up into two groups and stay with other relatives.
"The girls' room got one big hole. They knocked down all that thing. This side, they cut the roof, smoke was coming out, shoot all the water in there. The carpet is all soaked," said fire victim Robert Souza.
Hunt and his family are still trying to figure out where they'll be staying. The Red Cross is helping out the fire victims.
"This is all I have and whatever my kids had on, their pajamas, that's all they have," he said. "We're kind of bad off right now, but we're going to be okay."
Firefighters were able to get the fire under control by 5:10 a.m.
HFD said a 40-year-old woman was treated by Emergency Medical Services personnel for smoke inhalation. No other injuries were reported.