Neighbors ask whether massive McCully blaze could have been prev - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Neighbors ask whether massive McCully blaze could have been prevented

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MCCULLY (HawaiiNewsNow) -

At least a dozen people are homeless after a raging blaze charred six homes in McCully on Wednesday night.

Firefighters saved May Fujii's home, but it's going to take months of work to repair the damage.

"The downstairs is all soaking wet. The carpet is all wet. The ceiling is waterlogged," said Fujii  

The fast-moving fire that destroyed one house and damaged five more broke out just before 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Fujii said it started at the home next door. 

Bank records show the owner lives in California and the property went into foreclosure nearly a decade ago.

People who know the property say when the last owner moved out, squatters moved in. 

"They had no electricity so they relied on a generator for power," said Fujii's brother, Mel Yamashita.

Fujii added, "I don't want accuse them of drugs but it's kind of strange when so many people come in and out in and out all hours of the night."

Residents say that over the years, they made reports to police.  The neighborhood board also made complaints about the property.

"I know police are aware of it because when we talk about it they kind of nod their head," said Yamashita.

With what's left of her belongings packed in the trunk of her car, Fujii questions why more wasn't done to evict the squatters.

"It's horrible. I mean why did this happen?" said Fujii.

Cadaver dogs assisted fire crews in the search for a person who was unaccounted for in the home where neighbors say the fire started.

About 5 p.m., officials confirmed that person was not in the debris. 

Officials estimate the damage to the homes at more than $2.3 million.

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