28 displaced after fast-moving fire destroys two homes in Makaha 

By Jai Cunningham, Brigette Namata and Web Staff (KHON)
Published: May 3, 2016, 5:25 am Updated: May 3, 2016, 7:35 pm

Within minutes, a fast-moving fire destroyed two homes and two vehicles in Makaha Tuesday morning.
It was reported just after 5 a.m. Tuesday on Lahaina Street.

A next-door neighbor shot video of the two-alarm fire, showing just how intense the flames got.

When firefighters arrived, a single-story residential unit was fully engulfed in flames, and neighboring homes were also on fire.

“I looked through my son’s window and I could see it. I opened this door and then I saw it, ‘Oh my God, the house in back is on fire,’” said neighbor Lena Uejo.

“I just heard noise and the fire raging and when I looked outside, the thing was spreading real fast, was getting out of control,” said neighbor Kelly Uejo. “I was just worried to make sure everybody get out, and everybody is saying everybody got out, so it’s all good.”

The Uejos say nearby utility lines were arcing, which caused a second house to catch fire.

Twenty-one of 22 people who lived in the first home were inside when the fire broke out. All were able to escape.

“After we got the fire down, one of the occupants said well there is another guy who might be there, might not be there. We did a search of the structure and did clear it,” said Battalion Chief John Pacheco with the Honolulu Fire Department.

Emergency crews took a man to the hospital with a second-degree burn to his right forearm.

“We were just out there praying,” said Lena Uejo. “That is just stuff, and stuff can be replaced. You can’t replace people.”

———-

Makaha home destroyed in fire was clean-and-sober facility

The primary home that burned is unofficially considered a clean-and-sober housing facility, known as Bay Side Hale, that has been around for 12 years.

“This house saved my life, saved me from being homeless. This house helped me to live life on life terms,” said tenant Glenn Martin.

Martin says he’s over six months “drug and alcohol free,” thanks largely to the facility.

“I’m really changing my life around for the better, but I’m not going to let something small like this discourage me,” said tenant Jason Takaki.

Renters were charged $250 a month.

“The man who ran this place, he helped people for how long already? He did it from the kindness of his heart,” said Martin. “He never have to do that, but he does. He helps people.”

State Sen. Maile Shimabukuro, D, Waianae, Makaha, says there are several clean-and-sober facilities on the Waianae coast.

“In this situation, I’m glad no one was seriously hurt, but it does sound like an awful lot of people were affected by this fire,” Shimabukuro said.

The city says the homeowner did not have the proper permit for a group-living facility. More than eight unrelated tenants in a home would require a conditional-use permit, which the city says Bay Side Hale did not have. But in 2011, the homeowner asked about an Adult Residential Care Home license.

The city inspected the home and found it was in compliance with the building code. In a statement, the city said “our records show no violations at this property.”

Meanwhile, Martin said, “we gonna stay in one tent for now, big Army tent on the next street. We gonna hang over there.”

The Department of Planning and Permitting says it will send an inspector to the residence to investigate.

Meanwhile an additional six people were displaced from a damaged neighboring home.

Fire damage has been estimated to be $422,000 to the building and $25,000 to its contents. An additional $155,000 of fire damage has been estimated for several neighboring structures and vehicles.

The fire is under investigation and its cause has yet to be determined.

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