Fire kills Kihei woman

KIHEI – A 77-year-old Kihei woman died in what appeared to be an accidental fire Friday morning at her residence on Kanani Road, officials said.

Police identified her as Hazel Jones, who lived alone at the house. She was found in the hallway of the three-bedroom, two-bathroom home and pronounced dead at the scene, police said. Some of her pets also died in the fire, police said.

The fire at the one-story, 2,300-square-foot home at 232 Kanani Road, near Piilani Highway, was reported at 5:44 a.m., said Capt. Kris Sakamoto, Maui Fire Department spokesman. He said that when the first fire crew, a Kihei engine company, arrived on scene four minutes later, the home was about 50 percent engulfed in flames.

“The flames were going 50 feet in the air,” said Bill Marrs, whose home on Auhana Road borders the house that burned. “It was shooting up.”

“I thought it was in our backyard,” said his wife, Maureen Marrs. “We saw the flames.”

There had been a downpour shortly before the fire started, area residents said.

Terry Swann, who lives on nearby Haukai Place, said he had been awakened by the heavy rain and was getting back to sleep when he heard what sounded like fireworks. “I heard pop, pop, pop, pop, pop,” Swann said.

When he went outside and looked toward Kanani Road, he saw flames near a towering pine tree. “I saw tall flames,” he said.

Maureen Marrs said the wind was blowing away from their house, keeping the flames away.

Firefighters soon arrived and began hosing down the fire. “We were lucky, the Fire Department did a great job,” Bill Marrs said.

In addition to the Kihei engine company, Wailea engine and ladder crews responded, along with Kahului engine, rescue and hazardous materials companies.

The fire was brought under control at about 7 a.m., continuing to smolder until it was declared extinguished at 11:37 a.m.

Damage to the home was estimated at $250,000 to the structure and $50,000 to its contents.

Although the cause of the fire was undetermined, it appeared to be accidental, based on information gathered during the investigation, Sakamoto said.

* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at