A fire investigator combed through charred debris yesterday, looking for the cause of a fire that gutted a single-family home and killed a 65-year-old woman Friday night in Aiea.
Neighbors identified the victim as Jane Ebisui. City property tax records listed the homeowners as Ebisui and her deceased husband, Alvin.
Her family could not be reached yesterday. Neighbors said Ebisui lived with her adult son, whose car was gone when the blaze started.
The two-alarm fire started at 10:17 p.m. at 99-518 Ulune St., said Honolulu Fire Department spokesman Gary Lum. Firefighters arrived in about five minutes and brought the blaze under control by 10:39 p.m. Police and firefighters are investigating.
Authorities found the woman in a back room of the house at 1:10 a.m. yesterday. Two dead rabbits were also found in the house, one outside its cage.
Two cars in the carport were destroyed, and the siding of a house next door was damaged.
Firefighters returned yesterday morning to put out hot spots. They did not release a damage estimate.
Neighbors and witnesses said the fire grew quickly and flames blew straight into the air.
Richard Tom, who lives two houses down, got up on his roof to water down his house and could see the flames reach about 1 1/2 times the height of the structure.
"Luckily, there was no wind," he said.
Neighbor Shane Vasconcellos said he came out just as the fire started.
"The fire wen’ grow super-fast," Vasconcellos said. "The windows were exploding out."
Three men tried to check if anyone was inside, he said. One reached a back room but couldn’t find anyone and had to get out because of the heat, he said.
Carol Toguchi, who lives next door to the destroyed home, said she was dozing while watching the news when she heard people yelling, "Get out the house!" When she came out, the house next door was already in a ball of flames.
"I was all shook up," she said after the fire was out. "I’m still shook up."
She described her neighbors as private and said she didn’t know them very well.
"I used to see her always weeding the yard," she said of Ebisui.
Several neighbors said Ebisui often kept to herself and had been acting oddly the past few weeks.
A couple weeks ago, she pushed her trash bins to the center of the street and stood in the roadway shouting, said Lusianna Mageo, who lives across the street.
"I was scared for her," she said.
A next-door neighbor said he saw Ebisui burning paper or rubbish in her front yard the day before the fire.
Ebisui is survived by two sons and a daughter, neighbors said.
She was a longtime member of Toho No Hikari church. A couple of the group’s members placed a bouquet of flowers in her driveway yesterday and recited prayers.
Ebisui used to work in the group’s organic garden and prepare healthy food for the members, said her minister, Steve Ichikawa.
"People came to know her as a generous person who is always feeding people," he said.
She stopped attending services more than six months ago after her family said she wasn’t feeling well, he said.
"We wished her well," he said, "but there was nothing we could do."