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Hilo Structure Fire Destroys 1 Home, Damages 2 Others

October 30, 2019, 11:36 AM HST
* Updated October 31, 7:20 AM
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PC: Jaime Dixon

One home was destroyed and two others were damaged after a structure fire erupted in the Wainaku area of Hilo early this afternoon.

The Hawai‘i County Civil Defense Agency sent a text alert out at 11:23 a.m. to inform residents of the fire on Kou Lane. Hawai‘i County Fire crews are still on scene. Currently, Pueo Street is closed. One Hawai‘i County firefighter was taken to Hilo Medical Center for a minor case of heat exhaustion.

No other serious injuries were reported at this time.

Hawai‘i County Fire Department Battalion Chief Matthias Kusch said one resident was home at the time when he heard a pop and the power go out. The resident soon discovered a fire under the house and attempted to put it out, but it quickly grew.

“We could already see a large black plume as we were responding to the call,” Kusch said.

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Jaime Dixon captured billows of black smoke rising into the Hilo sky.

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Upon arrival, the home was fully engulfed and infringing on two other structures. The main structure eventually collapsed. Two other structures, about 10 feet away from the house, sustained damage. One of the adjacent homes caught fire. The other structure received superficial damage.

Kusch said the homes in the area are all World War II era homes – single-wall wood structures – in area where there is thick vegetation.

Logistically, Kusch said, it was difficult to fight the blaze as there was no easy access to the house. It hasn’t been easy on personnel, who began fighting flames in the heat of the day.

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“It’s been a tough fire,” he added.

Kusch said about 20 firefighters responded to put the fire out. New recruits were also brought in to assist. Units from Puna were called to backfill the fire department’s other incoming calls.

Volunteers with the American Red Cross are responding to the fire. Red Cross disaster volunteers are heading to the scene to meet with affected residents and ensure their immediate emergency needs for food, shelter and clothing are met. Caseworkers will continue to follow up with anyone affected in the coming weeks to provide referrals, guidance or additional assistance as needed to help with the recovery process.

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