‘Like a bomb went off’: Residents take stock of community forever altered by violence

A Diamond Head family went to church on Sunday. They returned to an active crime scene and their home destroyed

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - A family of seven who lost everything in the fires that devastated a Diamond Head neighborhood on Sunday is counting their blessings.

Although they have nothing left, the Patterson family is grateful they still have each other.

"I mean, just rubble. Like a bomb went off," said Adam Patterson.

Patterson, his wife Racheal and their five kids were at church Sunday morning when they heard the awful news.

“We were sitting in a Sunday school class when my wife received a text message from a friend of hers that said, ‘Are you guys OK? There’s a fire near your house.’”

Patterson rushed home, but officers had the area blocked off.

“I could just see the smoke and my heart was racing, nervous, wondering if our house is going to be affected or not,” Patterson said.

On Monday, Patterson got a first-hand look at the damage for the first time.

“Looks like one of the walls, only one side, is somewhat standing and you can see all the way through. We live on Diamond Head and we can see all the way through to Hibiscus,” he said.

His neighbors are still shaken. Some are in disbelief over the tragedy in their close-knit community.

“It looks like a war-torn neighborhood. It looks like things you see on TV that are just annihilated,” said Diamond Head resident Tim Reed.

Stuart Coleman lives across the street from the scene.

He said with no power and increasing smoke, his family chose to leave.

“We had a vantage point of the fires and we saw the fire was going from the house where it all started to the next house and the next house moving up the street. So we were really concerned at that point telling the police and the SWAT guy please let the fire trucks in,” said Coleman.

A bird’s-eye view of the scene shows the charred devastation where multi-million dollar and historic properties once stood.Amid the chaos, the Patterson family is trying to focus on the positive.

“It’s a little heartbreaking and sad to all the things that will happen and the world we live in. But also knowing that so many people are good and willing to look out for one another despite the evil that goes on,” said Patterson.

To help the Patterson family, click here.

The city has opened an emergency shelter at the Kilauea District Park and there are several efforts to collect clothes and food for the displaced families.

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