POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Oct 2, 2010
Three men tried to enter a burning Lualualei house after hearing the screams of someone inside yesterday afternoon.
The three who work at Turfgrass Hawaii, located up the street, said they were in anguish after the screams stopped and they realized they could not save him.
"We went just try for save 'em," said Rico, 23, who declined to give his last name. "We saw smoke, and we tried hollering in the house. By the time we heard somebody, the flames were too big and the smoke was too much for all of us."
The 55-year-old bedridden man, Mario Eder, was pronounced dead at the scene of the fire reported shortly before 2 p.m.
"I just can't shake this," said Rico, haunted by the screams just a few feet away from him, but the three could not get far into the house.
Rico showed friends of Eder's family how he burned his shirt as he attempted to enter the house by trying to stay close to the ground. He said he crawled on his hands and knees into the burning house.
"What a way for die," he said.
Rico also said he heard a dog crying upstairs, "then you no hear nothing," he said.
"Don't let it get to you," a police officer at the scene said to him. "You tried."
A 29-year-old fellow employee and the company owner, Derek Cornelison, 33, also tried to help save the man.
Cornelison said the death could have been prevented had neighbors responded, some of whom were outside.
"A lot of people listening to the dude screaming for help didn't do anything," Cornelison said. "It's sick. The house is in flames, people are inside screaming and you got 15 people standing around taking pictures."
Cornelison, whose Quonset hut burned down a couple of months ago, also complained that so many farmers are burning rubbish that the smell of smoke does not alert people to a house fire.
Alex Vakauta, 55, said he was outside building a fence across the street when he saw a little bit of smoke coming from the back window of the first floor. He said he turned around and a few minutes later saw flames coming from the window.
That's when he called 911.
"The other boys go in," Vakauta said. "I just called the fire (department)."