Elderly Kahului couple pulled from burning home called act of heroism
By Wendy Osher (Update: 6:28 p.m. 9/21/10)
An elderly couple was pulled to safety after their home accidentally caught fire Tuesday afternoon. The fire was reported at 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday, September 21, 2010 at the couple’s single-story home located at 237 Molokai-Hema Street in Kahului. “It’s always sad to see,” said Acting Batallion Chief Kapala Novikoff, “but I’m glad that they were extracted.”
Lt. Wayne Ibarra with the Maui Police Department said responding officer Garret Benito arrived on scene to find the house billowing with smoke. He was informed
by bystanders that there was an elderly couple within, and entered the home to find 93-year-old Tomiko Fujimoto who showed him where here husband, 90-year-old Toshio Fujimoto was located. Officer Benito led the Fujimoto’s out of their home. All three were treated for minor smoke inhalation and were released on scene.
Another individual from a neighboring home was also escorted away from the area and was assisted by medics. Officer Heather Gilroy and a recruit officer escorted the 58-year-old man who lived to the rear of the Fujimoto’s at 243 Molokai Hema Street. He was reportedly experiencing difficulty breathing and was treated by medics as well.
Novikoff said neighbor Brisen Gonsalves was also credited with assisting in the initial rescue effort prior to the arrival of responding personnel. “Hats off to these guys and their heroic acts,” said Novikoff.
The Fujimoto’s have been living at the home since 1952, and are known among many for participation in the little-league baseball community and also as long-time Kahului residents.
The fire destroyed their 1200-foot single-story home, causing an estimated $400,000 loss to the structure and an additional $300,000 loss to the contents of the home. According to Novikoff, the preliminary cause of the fire was electrical, but further investigation is being conducted.
Six fire companies responded to the incident along with safety and support personnel. Novikoff described the blaze as “pretty stubborn.” Crews arrived on scene at 12:35 p.m., the blaze was declared under control at 3:07 p.m. and it was extinguished at 4:20 p.m.
The Fujimoto’s went to a family home following the incident.
(Update: 1:05 p.m. 9/21/10)
Maui firefighters are responding to a structure fire located near the Molokai Hema, Wakea Avenue intersection in Kahului. The fire was first reported at 12:29 p.m. Crews from both the Wailuku and Kahului stations are utilizing a portion of the road to accommodate equipment to fight the fire. Wakea Avenue is closed between Kamehameha Avenue and Niihau Street. In addition, Molokai Hema St between Wakea Ave and Moali St is also closed.