Neighbors rescue man from burning home


HILO — Several neighbors of a disabled Honomu man came to his aid early Wednesday morning when his home erupted in flames.

Anthony Aguinaldo of 28-1706 Puako St. was transported to Hilo Medical Center after a family member who lives with him — reportedly his nephew — and neighbors helped the man escape the blaze around 6 a.m. Several neighbors said the man had recently returned to live in the house after an extended hospital stay.

Firefighters were still on the scene at about 9:45 a.m., dousing hot spots.

Firefighters reported responding to the 6:14 a.m. alarm, with the first unit arriving at 6:31 a.m, according to the Hawaii Fire Department. Upon arrival, they reported finding the single-family dwelling “fully involved in fire with the roof collapsed.”

The occupant had already exited the home, and was transported to the hospital in stable condition.

The fire was put out by 7:30 a.m., according to the department.

Firefighters assessed the damage to the home at approximately $60,000, saving about $15,000 worth of the structure. Aguinaldo is listed on county tax records as the owner of the single-story, 1,600-square-foot home.

Puako Street resident Carolyn Okonek said a neighbor came knocking on her door to warn her about the fire.

“I just grabbed my camera and ran out there. It was a ball of fire. All we could see, everything was engulfed in flames,” she said.

Okonek said that when the propane tank’s release valve went off, everyone could hear a loud hissing.

“That’s when the police told us, ‘Everybody get out.’ They didn’t want us anywhere near it,” she said.

Aguinaldo was in the emergency room at HMC at about noon, according to a nurse who answered the phone, and could not be reached for comment.