Kalihi family recovers after home destroyed by 3-alarm fire

Kaauwai Place

The Bringas family is picking up the pieces after a three-alarm fire ripped through their Kalihi home Thursday afternoon.

The Honolulu Fire Department says the house, located at 1244 Kaauwai Place behind Damien Memorial School, is a complete loss.

Damages total more than half-a-million dollars. The fire was accidentally caused due to welding being done in the home’s garage.

The intense heat from the fire also destroyed part of their neighbor’s home with damages estimated at more than $130,000.

“The main concern was my son is alive and my friend is alive. The other stuff can build. We can build again,” said homeowner Leopoldo Bringas Jr.

Two people were home at the time of the fire: Bringas’ son, Leon, and a family friend.

Leon, who suffers from diabetes and kidney failure, says he was on his mobility scooter when he heard three loud pops from the garage. Realizing it was a fire, he tried to extinguish it, but fell and fractured his ankle.

“I tried to grab fire extinguisher, couldn’t get it to work. I ran over to grab a water hose and that’s when I fell,” Leon said.

Luckily, a neighbor was able to pull him out of the house, but “by then I was all bruised up and trying still fight the fire,” Leon said.

The family is grateful no one was seriously injured.

But there is one thing they miss, a fleet of collectible vintage Volkswagen cars.

“Now my girls, I cannot help,” Leopoldo said, in reference to his cars, “but I can replace them.”

The American Red Cross Hawaii State Chapter has put the Bringas family in a hotel in Waikiki.

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