Early morning fire damages Pepeekeo apartment building

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PEPEEKEO — Eight people were taken by ambulance to Hilo Medical Center for treatment as a result of an early Sunday morning apartment building fire in Pepeekeo.

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PEPEEKEO — Eight people were taken by ambulance to Hilo Medical Center for treatment as a result of an early Sunday morning apartment building fire in Pepeekeo.

The fire damaged four units at the Kauhale Olu apartment complex at 28-2926 Kumula St., according to Sgt. Joel Field of Hawaii Police Department. Field said the fire started in a unit in J Building.

“They’re just mopping it up, ventilating it, and they’re going to take a quick sweep, make sure nobody’s in there,” Field said shortly after 7 a.m. at the scene. “… All of the families in four individual units got out and they’re all accounted for.”

Hawaii Fire Department Battalion Chief Michael Hayashida said the alarm sounded at 5:28 a.m. The first unit arrived at 5:40 a.m.

“There were a total of 12 HFD units that responded, a total of 22 HFD personnel and there were eight patients that were treated and transported to Hilo Medical Center,” Hayashida said. “One unit was fire-related, as to damage, there was another due to smoke.”

Preliminary indications were that no one was seriously injured.

Field said those taken by ambulance to Hilo Medical Center were transported “as a precaution for smoke inhalation.”

The fire was unintentional and started by unattended cooking, according to a written Hawaii Fire Department statement. Arriving firefighters found the upper floor of the two-story, four-apartment building was totally involved. Additional buildings were threatened by the fire but firefighters were able to contain damage to J Building, which sustained “severe fire and water damage,” according to the release.

Power lines were reported down and the electrical circuit breaker was shut down as a precaution.

The fire was reported under control at 5:50 a.m. and extinguished at 6:10 a.m.

HFD personnel assisted first-story residents with salvage of personal items. The Red Cross and a representative of the building owner, Pepeekeo Kauhaleolu LLC, were assisting those displaced, according to the release.

No dollar estimate of damage was given.

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Police issued a notified at 6:45 a.m. that Kumula Street and Andrade Road from Highway 19 were closed to traffic. A notification that both were reopened was sent at 9:03 a.m.

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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