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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, February 23, 2010

9 safe after fleeing house fire

By Mary Vorsino
Advertiser Urban Honolulu Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

It took 30 firefighters an hour to extinguish the fire at the corner of Green and Victoria streets. All residents, including a disabled man, got out safely.

DAVID YAMADA | The Honolulu Advertiser

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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Flames were shooting out of windows just before 6 a.m. The fire did about $225,000 damage to the house and contents.

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Makiki resident Richard Tanuvasa was awakened yesterday by a neighbor's frantic shouts.

"She was yelling and screaming to get out of the house because it's on fire," Tanuvasa said.

The father of four was up in an instant, rushing his children, wife and a disabled man he cares for out the door and trying not to breathe in the thick, black smoke that was quickly filling his home. Once outside, he tried to douse the flames with a garden hose.

But it was too late.

The fire had engulfed the bottom floor and was spreading to a separate rental upstairs.

"It was a nightmare," Tanuvasa said yesterday, as he sat on the sidewalk with his family outside the destroyed home. "The heat was something else. I'm just glad we got out of there."

It took 30 firefighters nearly an hour to extinguish the two-alarm blaze at 1430 Victoria St., which started about 5:52 a.m. The cause of the fire was under investigation, fire officials said.

Neighbors said the heat of the flames could be felt across the street.

Several people rushed out to try to help the family when the fire started.

"I heard yelling. I woke up to that," said Kim Kikuta, who lives across the street.

She said when she walked outside her front door, she could feel the heat from the fire.

The flames, she said, were shooting out of the windows.

No one was injured in the blaze, but all nine people who lived in the residence the Tanuvasas, their disabled client and a couple upstairs are homeless. The American Red Cross of Hawai'i was assisting them. The Tanuvasas were also getting help from relatives.

The blaze caused an estimated $225,000 in damage to the two-story home and its contents.

Tanuvasa, who has a 5-year-old, 10-year-old and twin 7-year-olds, all of whom were home when the fire broke out, said he and his family lost just about everything they owned in the fire.

Yesterday, though, the family was trying to remain upbeat.

And they were grateful everyone got out OK.

Tanuvasa added that the family was trying to save up to buy a home.

That dream has been pushed back indefinitely. Now, they're looking for a new rental.

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