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Blaze racks Ewa Beach townhouse


    This unit in the Sun Rise complex in Ewa Beach was gutted by fire Thursday morning. A resident of the unit was injured trying to save a cat from the blaze.

    Firefighters battled a blaze Thursday on the third floor of a townhouse on the 91-000 block of Hanapouli Circle in Ewa Beach. At least four families were being assisted by the Red Cross because of smoke or water damage.

A man was injured Thursday morning trying to save a cat from a fire that destroyed his townhouse unit in Ewa Beach.

Firefighters arrived at 9:40 a.m. to fight the blaze on the third floor of the Sun Rise complex on the 91-000 block of Hanapouli Circle, directly behind Ewa Town Center. The fire was brought under control at 9:59 a.m.

Capt. Terry Seelig, Honolulu Fire Department spokesman, said the man and woman who live in the unit got out safely. However, the man went back into the unit to rescue a cat, which was killed in the blaze.

Paramedics took the man to a hospital. Rex Polendey, complex resident manager, said it appeared the man hurt his back and the back of his head.

His condition was not immediately available.

There also was extensive damage to the exterior of an adjoining unit in the 10-unit complex. At least four families were being assisted by the Red Cross because of smoke or water damage.

Polendey said he was making his morning rounds when he smelled smoke,

He initially believed it was from a barbecue at the complex swimming pool but then realized it was the townhouse building right next to the pool.

He and landscapers Julie Rivera and Mario Lapurga saw two men on the lanai of the adjacent unit and ran to get a tall ladder from the toolshed and raised it up to the third floor, Polendey said.

One of those men was Army Staff Sgt. Lanz Vong­khamthanh, 21, who said he and his brother Lucky, 18, were sleeping in their mother’s apartment after a rough night of partying when the flames awoke them. Their mother was not home.

Vongkhamthanh said flames blocked their exit out the front door.

The Schofield soldier said he used to scale up the lanai when he would lock himself out, and was prepared to jump off the lanai onto the second floor and then to the ground, but is not sure whether his brother would have been able to do so.

Both Polendey and Vong­khamthanh credited the quick arrival time of firefighters with preventing the situation from getting much worse.

"If they didn’t come fast, it would probably be wiped out," Polendey said.

The cause of the fire is under investigation. There was no immediate estimate of damage.

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