HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - With every emergency call, firefighters prepare for the worst.
But even years of training couldn’t prepare firefighter Alika Naluai for an emergency call last week: He and his crew responded to a fire at his own home.
“I thought it was farther away but then I heard my address and a sinking feeling came over me,” said Naluai, who is also an Army veteran.
The alarm sounded about 1 a.m. Tuesday.
Paoakalani Naluai, Alika’s wife, was home at the time with the couple’s children. She woke up with a strange feeling with a strange feeling. That’s when she heard the crackling of a fire.
Naluai immediately yelled for their children. All four of their girls made it out of the home safely.
But their father, who was just pulling up to the scene of the fire, didn’t know that yet.
“Just getting here, it was surreal seeing all of the smoke come out of the house," Alika Naluai said. “It was on the first floor, things were coming out of almost everywhere. So, I knew it was pretty bad already.”
He took a hose through the front door, attacking the flames at the fridge where the fire started.
His wife recalls her hero springing into action.
“I was standing outside in front of the neighbor’s house watching and he just jumped out of the truck and ran into the house. He thought we were in there. For two minutes, he thought we were still trapped,” she said.
Those were two of the most agonizing minutes the war veteran and experienced firefighter has ever lived through.
“Once I saw that there were enough firefighters here to take care of whatever the issue was, I went to go check on my family to see if they were OK,” Alika Naluai said.
“My wife was outside and I just took my gear off and gave her a hug.”
Reunited with his girls, he also took a moment to take a deep breath.
He also realized he had three missed calls on his phone and a voicemail from his youngest daughter.
“I just kept on saying dad. I didn’t know what to say,” said Kealana Naluai.
On Saturday afternoon, the family rummaged through the belongings that could be salvaged. And while they lost so much in the blaze, they’re grateful that they still have the most important thing of all — each other.
“We’ve realized in a split second that the only thing that matters is our family,” said Alika Naluai.
The fire caused almost a $500,000 worth of damage. The family is staying at the home of another firefighter. Their home can be salvaged and was insured.