The Hawaii Fire Department is investigating the cause of a Saturday morning house fire that destroyed a multifamily residence on Kealapua Street in Kailua-Kona.
Residents of the home noticed the fire starting around the water heater at the front of the building and were able to get out the back safely, said West Hawaii Battalion Chief Ty Medeiros. The estimated 2,000-square-foot dwelling was a total loss, with the dollar value yet to be determined, Medeiros said.
A van, a compact pickup, a sedan and two trailers were also engulfed in flames.
“We had a hard time accessing the upper story,” Medeiros said. “We had to gain access through the windows.”
Nine people were in the dwelling when the fire began, according to the fire department.
“You could smell it. I was looking for burning plastic,” said neighbor Greg Slingloff, who stood in front of his house and watched firefighters spray foam over burning vehicles in the carport across the street.
Moments earlier, small, dull explosions sent debris into the street.
“You could see flames on the front of the house, then the porch,” Slingloff said. “Then the vehicles caught on fire and things started to blow up. I had to put the dog inside and move my van before it melted.”
Other neighbors said the explosions appeared to be burning tires. Power lines were scorched and firefighters removed several propane tanks from the house.
Five companies responded to the 11:20 a.m. alarm, with two tanker trunks pumping water on the blaze. Firefighters were overhauling the building, locating hot spots and spraying down a collapsed, smoldering roof two hours after the blaze started.
The occupants declined to comment.
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