HILO, Hawaii – A blaze burned through an Ohai Street building in the Puueo section of Hilo on Saturday morning.
The fire department said there were no injuries due to the fire. There were initial reports of an unaccounted for female, however she is now accounted for and fire officials believe there is no one in the building.
UPDATE (3:27 p.m.) – “This approximately 2,000 sq ft home constructed in 1938 with single wall construction was emitting flames from every visible window upon arrival,” a fire dispatch states.
The building is in danger of collapse. Fire Captain Ian Smith told photographer Daryl Lee in a video interview that an excavator is en route to demolish the unsafe building.
UPDATE (3:27 p.m.) – “A public works excavator was brought in to push over the remaining burned out skeleton of the structure,” a later fire dispatch said, “so it would not fall into the neighboring property.”
The Riverside Apartments are right next to the burned building.
UPDATE (3:31 p.m.) – Red Cross disaster volunteers will meet with affected residents and ensure their immediate emergency needs for food, shelter and clothing are met. Caseworkers will continue to follow up with anyone affected in the coming weeks to provide referrals, guidance or additional assistance as needed to help with the recovery process, the Hawaii chapter of the Red Cross reports.
Neighbors said the building was occupied by squatters at the time of the fire, but the Captain Smith said those reports are unconfirmed by the fire department.
Captain Smith said there have been a number of calls to the same location in the past, and there was a fire at the same house in November 2015. In the past, squatters were using candles inside the building, and the fire department also responded to medical calls at the location, Smith said.