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Big Isle man quells house fire with pot of miso soup

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Hawaii island resident Joy Gardner credits her son with saving her house by stopping a fast-moving fire with a pot of miso soup.

Gardner, 70, of Papaaloa, said crackling sounds woke up her son Reuben Prensky, 41, on Saturday morning. He investigated and found a plastic sink in the laundry area on fire with flames lapping at the roof.

“It was very intense,” she said by phone from Hawaii island.

Prensky went to the kitchen for some water and grabbed the first thing he could find — a large pot of miso vegetable soup left out overnight on the stovetop. He doused the fire with the soup, slowing it enough for him to grab the garden hose and extinguish the flames, she said. 

Prensky put out the fire before firefighters arrived.

“Everybody agrees, if that fire had gone on for about 30 more seconds, it would have burned the whole house down,” Gardner said.

Firefighters told her the fire would have gotten out of control if it had spread along the rafters of the A-frame house.

In the aftermath, there were the melted sink, a blackened wall, and orange and white cubes of vegetables on the floor.

Gardner, who writes books on vibrational healing, said her son came from Canada two days ago to visit.

“I’m very, very grateful,” said Gardner, who was sleeping upstairs in the house at the time. “He saved the house, he saved the day, he might have even saved my life.”

Fire officials said the 5 a.m. fire started from an electrical short in a light switch in the laundry area. It caused about $10,000 in damage to the home at 35-2040 Nanu St.

Officials also credited Reuben’s “quick thinking” and said his actions saved about $200,000 in property.

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