KILAUEA — Thankfully, the owners’ busy schedules kept them from being at home.
“We were both working,” said Tom Stallings, who along with Neide O’Brian, owns a Kilauea home that suffered $70,000 in damages from a fire Saturday night. “Neide has a restaurant in Hanalei and we were both working there when the fire was reported. We were lucky a girl staying at a neighbor’s house called 9-1-1 to report the fire.”
The blaze was reported to authorities at approximately 9:40 p.m. with firefighters from the Hanalei, Kaiakea, Kapaa and Lihue fire stations responding.
“I heard the alarm, but didn’t know what it was,” said Amy Vieira, who made the 9-1-1 call. “At first, I thought it was my ears ringing from the surfer’s ear, which I have. I went outside because I thought it might be a car alarm, but I couldn’t see the fire, or smell anything. Then I heard the explosions and called 9-1-1.”
Stallings said Vieira’s actions were huge in keeping the home from being destroyed.
“The firefighters said it was a good thing the alarm came when it did,” Stallings said. “They said if the alarm had come in just five minutes later, the house would have been fully engaged.”
The county said in a release that an unattended candle may have been the cause. The home was empty and no injuries were reported.
Sunday the American Red Cross assisted the homeowners.
“The Red Cross helps with the initial response for the first two or three days,” said William Troutman, a Red Cross Disaster Services volunteer who was working with Stallings and O’Brian. “There is no electricity, and the home is not habitable at the moment. Thank heaven for the smoke detector and fast response by the fire department, or damage would have been worse.”
Case workers will continue to follow up with the family to ensure their immediate needs, like food, water and clothes, are met and to provide referrals to assist with their disaster recovery, states a Red Cross release.
The homeowners are staying with friends in the meantime.
Vieira said in addition to the quick response of the fire department, she is grateful to the 9-1-1 operator for helping her get the message across.
“I was disoriented when I got out on the street,” Vieira said. “At first, I thought it was my ears, but instead, it was the smoke detector alarm, and with the sounds and confusion, I became disoriented. The operator kept me calm and kept asking questions which helped.”
Fire crews entered the home and the fire was deemed fully extinguished at 10:25 p.m. They also ventilated the home to prevent further smoke damage.
Fire inspectors are continuing an investigation.
Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or firstname.lastname@example.org.