Koloa family escapes fire

KOLOA — Kathleen Goularte was in bed early Tuesday morning when she heard crackling.

“I looked out and saw sparks, then I felt the heat and I saw flames when I looked out,” she said. “I went into the hallway and I realized that once I went in the hallway, the flames were coming from the kitchen and out the back.”

Goularte alerted her granddaughter, Kyla Javier.

“I yelled to Kyla to get the babies out and get them out the window and hurry up because something’s wrong and I didn’t know what it was,” she said.

Kyla screamed, “My door lit on fire. Fire! Fire!”

Kyla grabbed her 3-month-old baby girl, Kenzi, and jumped out the window.

“I just kept yelling, ‘Baby! Baby!’” Kyla said, referring to her 6-year-old son Lucas.

“(Luckily), Lucas had already jumped out the window,” she said. “No idea how he made it out, but thankful he was not hurt.”

Kathleen’s son-in-law David Crowder and his wife Shannon heard the commotion and escaped through their window.

“We got up to go find what was going on and that’s when everybody realized that the house was on fire,” David said. “We exited out as many windows as we could.”

The family of six got out alive. Even their dog, Kekoa.

“It was the scariest thing that has ever happened in my life,” Shannon said. “It just happened so fast and it was so scary and so hot. We jumped out of the window with no clothes, no shoes.”

According to a Kauai County report, the fire broke out 4:15 a.m. Firefighters from the Koloa station were on scene by 4:17 a.m. and were later joined by crews from the Kalaheo and Lihue stations.

The fire was under control within minutes, but the three-bedroom home was considered a total loss.

The family had lived there about a year and was renting the home.

Foul play was not suspected, and officials estimated $300,000 in damages to the structure and its content.

David said the fire started in the kitchen area.

“Investigators have determined where it started,” he said. “Possibly electrical, but it hasn’t been completely determined.”

Julio Flores, Old Koloa Church assistant youth pastor, heard the crackling sound from several homes away and immediately came to the family’s assistance.

“I thought it was firecrackers going off,” he said. “I jumped out and ran down my dirt road. Sure enough, the family was right in front the house. I just made sure they were OK; took care of them as I would like to be taken care of.”

Flores then went across the street, offered his jacket to Lucas and attended to the rest of the family.

“I let the mom use the bathroom in my house, and I grabbed bottled water for them,” he said. “I brought shirt for the uncle and one extra jacket for the mom.”

Goularte, who suffered second-degree burns to her right arm, said Flores was one of the first responders on scene.

“He stayed and helped and getting us all organized,” she said. “He was trying calm us all down and keep us from going into shock. We didn’t know if we had injuries or how we felt. He was already right there.”

Since the fire, Kyla said, an outpouring of support has come from the community.

“We are just in awe of the togetherness, the family atmosphere, random people stopping by to help us,” she said. “Definitely in this time of need, they have come through — our community. That’s all we can hope for and be grateful for.”

Goularte said the Red Cross also assisted the family.

“They came in and helped us with relief funds, getting us some money to help us with temp housing and some clothes — some food, clothes for the babies and some for us because everything is burned up obviously,” she said.

Family members said the community support has been wonderful.

“People have been donating things and clothes,” she said. “All the islanders have been coming in and asking us what we need and bringing clothes for the baby and diapers and everybody’s been really wonderful. It’s been great,” Goularte said.

David said he’s hopeful he and his family can find a new home.

“We’re working with our insurance company right now to help us find a hotel until we can find another house to live in,” he said.

Shannon said if it weren’t for Kathleen and Kyla, the family “would have been melted to the beds.”

“These are my two new heroes. If it wasn’t for her waking up, we could have slept through it and we wouldn’t be here right now,” she said. “By God’s good grace, we are here. All the people of Kauai that have come to help us and show their support — I have no words.”

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