Investigation underway after two Kailua homes destroyed in fire

Firefighters are investigating what caused a fire to gut two homes in Kailua. The call came in at 10:27 a.m. on Kaha St.

Three people were home at the time, including 96-year-old Violet Schmidt. “I just saw that fire coming out the bedroom so fast. I’ve never seen something so fast,” she said.

Two men, who were driving in the area, saw Schmidt standing at the front door and rushed to help.

“We pretty much got her out of there because she was kind of in shock and didn’t really wanna leave the house, so we pulled her out of there and I started pulling all the trash cans back, just anything that could potentially catch on fire,” said Kailua resident Abraham Porath.

“I just saw her and knew she needed to get out of the house. I feel like anyone would’ve probably done the same,” said Kailua resident Kiki Yuen.

Crews arrived to find the home facing the street fully engulfed in flames. Home video showed firefighters at work as fire ripped through the home. A smaller cottage in the back was about 50 percent involved, officials said.

Neighbor Nathan Hering said the fire was so intense, he could feel the heat from his porch across the street.

“It was hotter than opening the oven in your house. It was way hotter than that,” he said.

The fire was declared under control at 10:45 a.m. and extinguished at 11:33 a.m.

Damage was estimated at $230,000 to the front home and $90,000 to the back home.

According to fire officials, three adults lived in the front home and three adults lived in the back home. All are being assisted by the American Red Cross.

Downed power lines were also reported. Officials said while the lines burned during the fire, they did not initially cause the fire.

“Basically, they burned off the house end, so they were across the road and we cordoned off the area to make sure, these are live wires, and make sure nobody came and got injured by those,” said acting Battalion Chief Damien Kahaulelio, with the Honolulu Fire Dept.

One firefighter was injured and taken to the hospital for non-life-threatening burns.

Fire investigators determined the origin of the fire was a bedroom in the front home.

The cause of the fire is undetermined.

Damages were estimated at $320,000 total for both houses, including contents.

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