Fire destroys house; fireworks suspected

KAHULUI – Firefighters were investigating Tuesday whether fireworks ignited a New Year’s Eve fire that destroyed a 600-square-foot cottage at 51 Kono Place in Kahului.

Illegal aerial fireworks were strongly suspected because witnesses saw the fire begin on the roof and spread downward, a fire official said Tuesday afternoon.

Kahului firefighters responding to the 9:34 p.m. alarm found the home fully engulfed in flames and an adjacent structure with fire and smoke coming from its rooftop, said Fire Services Chief Lee Mainaga.

Damage to the cottage was estimated at $152,000, with damage to the other structure, where the fire was contained to one section of the home, assessed at $25,000, Mainaga said. That building was under construction and unoccupied.

Residents of the cottage were displaced and left the scene, he said. No injuries were reported.

A neighbor said the residents – a couple and a young boy – were not home at the time of the fire, possibly out at a New Year’s Eve celebration.

The rear end of a four-door sedan that was parked next to the house also burned.

Elsewhere, from 11:18 a.m. Monday to 3:20 a.m. Tuesday, police logs of 911 dispatch calls show there were 15 reports of brush and rubbish fires in Kihei, Haiku, Waiehu, Kahului, Lahaina, Pukalani, Waihee, Kaunakakai, Kula and Hana. Five of the fires were in Kihei alone.

Mainaga reported two of the brush fires were in nearly the same location in a four-hour span.

At 9:09 p.m. Monday, firefighters from Wailuku, Kahului and Kula responded to a brush fire at Kahekili Highway near Makaala Drive in macademia nut fields. Crews found an 800-square-foot area of brush burning, had the blaze under control at 9:40 p.m. and extinguished at 9:57 p.m., Mainaga said.

At 1:15 a.m. Tuesday, firefighters from the same units returned to Makaala Drive, near the earlier fire, where they found a 900-square-foot fire. It was brought under control at 1:35 a.m. and put out at 1:57 a.m., he said.

It was undetermined whether the fires were fireworks related, he said.

* Brian Perry can be reached at