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The Honolulu Advertiser

Updated at 5:51 p.m., Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Massive Waimalu blaze officially extinguished

By Dave Dondoneau
Advertiser Staff Writer


Honolulu Fire Department firefighters mop up after an early morning fire that broke out in wooden crates near a moving and storage company in the Pearl City area.

RICHARD AMBO I The Honolulu Advertiser

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WAIMALU Firefighters have officially declared extinguished a massive fire involving hundreds of wooden crates stacked outside of a moving and storage company that caught burned early this morning.

A cause for the fire has not been determined, and a cost estimate was not available.

Firefighters were called to the scene at 787 Ohihana St. at 2:47 a.m. The fire was reported contained at 4:36 a.m., and firefighters were still putting out hot spots as of 2 p.m., when it was finally extinguished.

No one was injured in the blaze.

The crates are believed to belong to Precision Moving and Storage, said Capt. Kenison Tejada of the Honolulu Fire Department.

Nearby businesses — Abbey Carpet, Iges Restaurant & 19th Puka, and Buzz's Steakhouse — were not damaged.

The fire grabbed the attention of several people driving on the H-1 and in other parts of Pearl City, 'Aiea and 'Ewa Beach.

"I was up on Royal Summit talking on the phone when I saw the flames, they were huge," said Ray Ichino, a 37-year-old 'Aiea resident. "I thought the Tesoro gas station (nearby, but down the street) had blown up. I came down to see it."

Nikki Okuhara and her friends, Matthew Harada and Kea Nakamura, all of Pearl City, sat in their car at a nearby parking lot to watch fire trucks dump hundreds of gallons of water on the flames.

"We were driving on Kamehameha Highway when we saw smoke and flames at least 30 feet high," Okuhura said.

"We saw everyone else watching so we came over and watched, too. We've been here at least 45 minutes and it doesn't look like they (firefighters) have got it to go down much."

About an hour after the fire was contained, Tejada said it was not yet fully under control. He estimated it would take another four hours to completely extinguish.

Tejada and said firefighters didn't know yet what caused the fire yet or what is in the wooden crates.

"There are so many containers we can't get to because of the way they're stacked and nowhere to walk," Tejada said.

"No matter how much water we fire at the crates, if there's more burning behind one of the walls we can't get to it."

Six engines, one ladder and one battalion chief — and a total of 35 firefighters — answered the fire call.

The wooden crates of various sizes — are located between what appears to be two warehouses for Precision Moving and Storage Company.

Compounding the trouble of fighting the blaze was that the back side of the crates were banked against a steep hill, so firefighters could only attack it from one side while a ladder truck remained at the bottom of the hill, directing a steady stream of water onto the containers and buildings.

The back corner of one of the moving and storage buildings was damaged before the fire was contained. No damage estimates were available.

"We won't know (the damages) until we know what's inside the crates and can look around," Tejada said.