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2 bodies recovered after furious blaze

  • GREGG K. KAKESAKO / GKAKESAKO@STARADVERTISER.COM
    Family members learned Monday of the death of two seniors who were killed in an early morning fire in Palolo Valley.
  • STAR-ADVERTISER
  • BRUCE ASATO / BASATO@STARADVERTISER.COM
    Firefighters looked over the burned structure on Monday.
  • COURTESY JEAN-PAUL CHAINE
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Firefighters recovered two bodies in a Palolo Valley home that was destroyed by fire Monday morning.

The two bodies were badly burned, and the medical examiner will conduct an autopsy today to determine the cause of death.

Relatives told firefighters Monday that two people — a woman, 91, and a man in his late 70s — lived in the three-bedroom house near Palolo Stream at 2546 Lai Road.

Capt. Terry Seelig, Honolulu Fire Department spokesman, said a body was found in a back bedroom at 10:25 a.m. A second body was found in another area in the house at 10:40 a.m. The gender of each victim was not disclosed.

The fire was reported at 6:24 a.m. near the intersection with 10th Avenue, said fire Capt. Robert Main, another spokesman. Flames had engulfed the three-bedroom, wooden home by the time firefighters arrived.

The fire was brought under control about a half-hour later.

Jean-Paul Chaine, who lives across the street, said the flames spread quickly. He said he was making coffee when he smelled smoke and saw the fire.

He ran downstairs and saw T-shirts and other laundry hanging on a line outside of the burning home, but by the time he got to the street, “I looked back up and the laundry was gone (burned).”

“The houses went up like tinder,” he said. “It was amazing.”

Chaine said a 20-foot Norfolk pine tree on the property also “went up like a torch.”

“It shot up like a firecracker,” he added.

He said the smoke was too thick for him to approach the house.

Main said an unoccupied three-bedroom home on the property was also damaged. Both homes were built in the 1960s, he said.

Damage to the two structures was estimated at $350,000 and $50,000, respectively.

Seelig said both structures are built on a slight slope, and firefighters brought in hoses and other equipment from two locations — Lai Road, which runs above the two homes, and 10th Avenue below the structures near Pukole Bridge.

Firefighters were forced to shore up the foundation of the house with jacks because it had started to collapse while they searched for bodies.

Family members congregated on Lai Road, waiting for word, and ended up comforting each other when they learned of the deaths.

Police closed 10th Avenue between Palolo Avenue and Lai Road for several hours.

Thirty-eight firefighters from nine companies from Waikiki to McCully and Wailupe responded to the two-alarm blaze.

Smoke from the fire hung over much of Palolo Valley throughout the morning.

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