By JOHN BURNETT
Tribune-Herald staff writer
Fire destroyed a vacant home in a Puna subdivision on Friday morning.
Firefighters responded to a 10:47 a.m. call reporting the three-story home on the 16-1500 block of Road 6 in Hawaiian Acres was on fire.
“From what we gather from the neighbors, it was an unoccupied building. Upon arrival … the house was fully engulfed,” Fire Battalion Chief Jerry Lum said early Friday afternoon. “When they (firefighters) came, nobody was on the property.”
Lum said the home was a total loss, estimated at $60,000, and a fire inspector was investigating the cause. The blaze left only a concrete wall standing amid smoldering wood rubble and pieces of a former corrugated metal roof. There were two burned-out car shells next to the structure — one of which appeared to be an early 1950s model.
Neighbor Brandy Balai said her son was the first to spot the fire. He called his father and the Fire Department was notified. An ambulance was among the units responding, although no one was injured.
Balai said that a couple from the San Francisco area owned the house, but the structure was unfinished when they divorced. She said she didn’t know their names, but added that they have an adult son who had been to the property recently.
“The son’s name was Nate and he had his friend, Keffer,” she said. “They were like on a little retreat. The dad sent them up here to check on the house. If they wanted to stay here, they could stay here and take care of the home. They couldn’t do it, because it was an off-grid home. They were having troubles, struggles. So they ended up moving two months after that. But one of their friends did end up staying. He was moving back and forth, just to check on it. And he called us recently to tell us that he was going to come and take care of the place. But we haven’t seen anybody; the gate’s been closed.”
Balai said that Nate went back to the Bay Area because “he was looking for a career.”
“He said he was going to come back in five years. He wanted to come back because he really loved the house,” she said. “It was a beautiful house; it wasn’t finished, but it was really, really nice.”
Email John Burnett at firstname.lastname@example.org.