KAILUA-KONA — A body was discovered in the rubble of a burned home Thursday in the Hawaiian Ocean View Estates subdivision in Ka’u.
The fire, reported about 9:40 a.m., destroyed a two-story, split-level home on Kailua Boulevard, northeast of Orchid Parkway, before firefighters were able to get the flames under control. Volunteer and county firefighters with the Ocean View Fire Station and county firefighters from Pahala worked to extinguish the blaze.
After the fire was out, a body was located within the debris, police confirmed Thursday evening.
Hawaii Police Maj. Robert Wagner said the body was believed to be that of the homeowner. Detectives, he said, will have to locate dental records to make positive identification.
Bill Bergin, a battalion chief with the Hawaii Fire Department, said the body recovered is believed to be that of a 92-year-old man who resided at the home. The home, which collapsed on itself, was declared a complete loss.
Dina Lovely, who lives on Kailua Boulevard, a couple lots down from the location of the blaze, said the fire burned hot and fast Thursday morning.
“That house went up so fast. It was like boom. One minute it was there and the next minute, the flames engulfed it,” she said. “It was like ‘pfft’ right back into earth.”
Lovely said she and her husband were awakened shortly before the fire exploded by their shar-pei dogs letting them know “something was going on.” The couple went outside, initially neither hearing nor seeing anything out of the ordinary.
“And then, all of the sudden, a loud pop and a very big boom followed, then there was crackling,” Lovely said. “Then we see a huge, billowing funnel of gray-blue smoke coming up — it just looked like someone had taken and just shot it up, like when Kilauea was erupting.”
They walked Kailua Boulevard to the source of the popping and cracking and saw flames coming from the home of a neighbor.
“That’s when we went, ‘Oh my god’ and then we heard the fire trucks because they’re only about half a block from us, luckily,” Lovely said.
Lovely said another neighbor, who owns JD Services LLC, also assisted in the effort, using heavy equipment to create a break to keep the fire from spreading. West Hawaii Today was unable to make contact with the man as of press time.
“It could have easily jumped (the road) and just ignited blocks of woods,” Lovely said.
Firefighters, fire inspectors and police remained on scene as of press time. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.