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Boulders fall down Kalihi mountainside; three houses hit

    Several houses on Kula Kolea Place in Kalihi were damaged by boulders falling down a mountainside tonight.
    John Maemori was evacuated along with other area residents. The rock went through Maemori's home on Kula Kolea Pl. and rested on the street below his house.
    Another look at the boulder that smashed into houses in Kalihi.
    A boulder fell on a house tonight, which was owned by John Maemori, at 2408 Kula Kolea Place in Kalihi.

Boulders tumbled down a Kalihi mountainside Thursday, smashing into three houses on Kula Kolea Place and narrowly missing four people in one of the houses.

Firefighters and rescue personnel were summoned at about 9 p.m. to the area of Kula Kolea Drive and Kula Kolea Place. No injuries were reported. 

Firefighters were evacuating residents whose houses were in the path of the boulders. Officials of the American Red Cross, Hawaii State Chapter, were helping occupants of the damaged homes.

Sgt. R. Oakes said at least two large boulders came down the mountain, damaging three homes, two heavily.

Police evacuated people from several houses on both sides of the street in the danger zone where officials were concerned more boulders might come down.

The American Red Cross was called to provide shelter for the displaced residents.

Oakes said a boulder about six feet in diameter and about 3 or 4 tons scraped along the side of a home at 2404 Kula Kolea Place and stopped in the middle of the road. A second boulder went through the roof and the roof of the carport at 2408 Kula Kolea, then landed between two parked cars, leaving a pothole in the street. The boulder bounced about 30 feet over a motorcycle and a picnic table and crashed into a home across the street.

"We are very lucky nobody was hurt," Oakes said.

Homeowner John Mae­mori said he was working on a computer in one part of the house with three friends nearby when he heard a rumble and the "whole left side of my house caved in."

He said a boulder crashed into the back of his house at 2408 Kula Kolea Place, went through the kitchen and "totaled" the house.

Saying the boulder came close to him and his friends, Mae­mori said he was lucky to be alive.

He said another boulder hit his neighbor’s house, demolishing it.

Maemori said he was going to recover some items and wait for an assessment to be done by fire officials.

Dan Furuya, 35, was saved by a refrigerator that deflected the boulder as he lay on a couch in front of the refrigerator in the living room at 2408 Kula Kolea

"I reached over to turn on the light and that’s when everything just exploded," he said. "Then all the debris came down like not even 10 seconds later."

He said he was OK, but shaken up.

"I’m just praying, thanking god for the fridge being there," he said.

Mike Bowen, who had just come home from work and was in a bar area above a carport, said a boulder went through the kitchen wall, landed on top of the fridge, sending the fridge through the floor, and continued through the front of the house, then bounced once on the street and landed against the neighbor’s house across the street.

(Bowen is the hiker who was stranded and had to use his survival skills in March when poor weather and visibility turned a five-day hike into seven on the Koolau Summit Trail.)

"You hear a bunch of splintering, a bunch of noise," said Bowen. "It sounds like the house coming off the hill. Next thing you know, the roof was exploding and stuff was making craters in the middle of the road."

When the boulder hit the house across the street, it burst a pipe, sending water into the air.

"I’m just glad that all of us made it out OK," he said. "Thank god."


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