Two families displaced by Kailua house fire

By Yunji de Nies
Published On: Jun 05 2014 08:30:00 PM HST

Two families are displaced tonight, after a fire destroyed a home and an adjacent rental unit. The fire burned the house to the ground within minutes, and injured a firefighter.

HONOLULU -

Two families were displaced Wednesday after a fire destroyed a home and an adjacent rental unit in Kailua.

Click here to watch Yunji de Nies' report.

The fire burned the house to the ground within minutes and injured one firefighter.

Violet Schmidt, the homeowner, has lived in the house for more than 30 years. She was in the front room around 10:30 a.m. when she saw flames burst through a back bedroom.

"I saw the flames, yeah. It came real fast like there was a fan in there," Schmidt said.

Thirty firefighters from six units responded. The first of them arrived within six minutes of the 911 call.

Despite their quick arrival, there was little they could do to save the home structure and the rental unit out back.

"It's a single-wall older home, so they tend to go a little quicker," said
Damian Kahaulelio, with the Honolulu Fire Department.

Schmidt and her grandchildren escaped unharmed.

One firefighter suffered non-critical burns which were treated at a nearby hospital.

Firefighters also had to contend with nearby power lines that were burned by the flames.

"One of the wires was down across the road. Later in the event, another wire fell. Basically they burned off of the house so they were across the road. We cordoned off the road and made sure no one got injured by those," Kahaulelio said.

Investigators do not yet know what started the fire, but Schmidt said her granddaughter had been vacuuming, and believed an electrical issue may be to blame.

"She said she plugged in a vacuum cleaner and it started a fire. I didn't see. I just saw the fire coming out of the room," she said.

Schmidt also said the people who rent the smaller unit on her property had just moved in a month ago.

The Red Cross was called in to assist both families.

Kailua House fire

PHOTOS: Kailua House Fire

Click here for photos of the house fire.

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