Man injured in Anahola fire

ANAHOLA — An early morning house fire left one man with injuries and a family without a home Monday in Anahola.

The house, 3771 Kawelo Street on the Mauka-side of Anahola, belongs to Lindell and Gwen Ruiz, who are raising two young daughters. They are also caring for two teenagers, a niece and nephew who lost their father eight months ago, Ruiz said.

It is unknown at this time where and how the blaze started but Ruiz believes it was in the front area of the home where her brother Kalei Akau, 25, lived. The family was able to make it out of the back of the home but Akau was trapped and jumped out a front window.

“I had just woke up for the baby and heard my brother screaming like I never heard him before,” said Ruiz. “I screamed fire and my husband woke and went to get the kids out.”

More than 40 percent of the home was in flames by the time Kauai Fire Department and police arrived at 5:09 a.m., according to a county news release.

At one point, Ruiz said Kalei may have went back into the home because he believed his nieces were still inside. That is when she said he sustained severe burns to his hands and arms.

The county reports that the injured man was treated for non-life-threatening injuries and transported to Wilcox Memorial Hospital for treatment and was released.

Ruiz said that Akau has since been admitted to Straub Clinic & Hospital on Oahu.

The county reported 16 firefighters had the blaze under control by 5:37 a.m.

Estimated damage to the structure is $180,000. An additional loss of $30,000 is estimated for the contents of the home, according to the report.

No other structures or property were affected by the fire. Investigators were still on scene at 10:30 a.m. Monday, and the investigation is ongoing.

The Hawaii Chapter of the American Red Cross responded to the scene. The family will have hotel shelter provided for three days while they begin applying for support and exploring options.

Anahola resident Loreine Rapozo responded to support the family as a friend. She said her house burned down a few years back and one of her own son’s was injured and sent to the same burn unit.

This instance is upsetting because the family is saying the home was not insured at the time of the blaze, she said.

“My heart just bled for them when she called me this morning,” Rapozo said.

Rapozo said she is helping Ruiz with contacting case workers, the Department of Hawaiian Homelands and Kauai Habitat for Humanity.

To support the family contact the American Red Cross or make a secure donation online at www.redcross.org/hawaii or call 739-8133.

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