Wailua buildings go up in flames; no one hurt

WAILUA — A shop and garage were engulfed in flames Thursday evening in Wailua Homesteads before Kaua’i Fire Department firefighters arrived.

Jerry Ibsen, who owns an acre of property at 5625A Ileina Lane in Queen’s Acres subdivision, watched helplessly as firefighters from the Kapa’a and Hanalei stations worked to contain the blaze as gusty winds whipped embers into the night sky.

Neighboring residents, many lining the Crossley Road addresses outside their own homes, watched as the night quiet was shattered by the explosions caused by the fire that was reported shortly after 6:30 p.m.

Dispatchers told emergency-response personnel that a two-story home was fully engulfed when the first call came in.

The spectators were joined by other spectators who traversed a right-of-way path to the end of Crossley Road, their interest sparked by the orange glow that could be faintly seen from the highway fronting the Wailua Golf Course.

Kaua’i Police Department officers helped keep motorists and others away from the scene.

Other residents took to watering down their homes in efforts at keeping the blaze from jumping to their own homes as the shower of embers was whipped around by the wind.

In an effort at keeping the blaze at bay, firefighters, in addition to crews battling the blaze, manned the water cannon, sending a mist of water into the night air, the wind showering the neighboring homes with a mixture of water and smoke.

Ibsen, in talking with police officers on the scene, said that they were burning grass before dinner, but extinguished the fires around six.

They then had dinner, and due to some back problems, he was lying on an ice pack on the floor when a neighbor lady called him, saying there was a fire.

When he went out to check, he said the shop on his property was ablaze, and with the winds gusting, that blaze soon caused the neighboring garage to fire up.

“There’s over a million dollars worth of stuff in there,” he lamented. Ibsen said there were two vintage cars housed in an adjacent building, and he was hoping the firefighters could contain the blaze to at least save those.

Several loud explosions were heard as firefighters battled the blaze, with the sounds possibly caused by a propane tank or acetylene tank exploding.

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