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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, March 12, 2010

Occupants, pets safe after fire guts Pālolo home

By Suzanne Roig
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Firefighters worked to control a fire yesterday morning that destroyed a home on the corner of 9th Avenue and Pa'ale'a Street in Pālolo. No one was seriously hurt. It was the third residential fire on O'ahu this week.

DAVID YAMADA | The Honolulu Advertiser

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PĀLOLO Firefighters combed through the burned-out shell of a Pālolo home yesterday afternoon, after a fire destroyed it early that morning.

Three occupants, some fish, two dogs and a bird escaped the fire that broke out at 1:38 a.m. at 1801 9th Ave. on the corner of Pa'ale'a Street and 9th Avenue.

"I heard noises, like popping and I thought it was coming from the garage," neighbor Mona Diorec said. "It was fast. There were flames coming out of the window and I heard a lady scream.

"I can still hear that scream. I couldn't hear the words, just the sound."

It was the third residential fire on O'ahu this week. The others were in Enchanted Lake and Makiki.

Yesterday's fire caused an estimated $600,000 in damage, fire Capt. Terry Seelig said.

Walter Furuyama, the owner of the 9th Avenue house, surveyed the damage and was philosophical. The home that he raised his daughters in was gone, but everyone who was in the home was unharmed.

"I'm glad everyone got out OK," Furuyama said. "When my daughter called me, I jumped out of bed and came down."

As family members swept up chunks of glass and ash, Furuyama looked on at the charred timbers of the second floor. Today, he plans to meet with a contractor to talk about the cost of rebuilding.

He built the home in the 1960s and had given it to his daughter Doreen Furuyama to live in. The second floor had been rented out and the tenants were moving out the last of their belongings when the fire began, he said. His daughter had been asleep in the first floor of the home at the time.

"I have to face the facts," he said. "It's finished. It's burnt. I cannot restore it to what it was. I hope I can rebuild it."

Firefighters sent five engine companies, two ladder companies, a rescue unit and a battalion chief a total of 40 firefighters to the fire. Seelig said the fire was under control at 2:01 a.m. and extinguished an hour later.

City Emergency Services spokesman Bryan Cheplic said paramedics treated and released two women at the scene. One woman who appeared to be in her 80s was treated for smoke inhalation and a woman who appeared to be in her 50s was treated for minor burns, Cheplic said. He said the older woman was the one who was first awakened by the fire and who woke the younger woman so they could escape the burning house.

Advertiser photographer David Yamada contributed to this report.