At 8 a.m. Saturday (Jan 7) firefighters got the alarm for a structure fire at 375 Ohai Street in Hilo. Crews arrived to find the house engulfed in flames. Photos taken from various places in Hilo on social media captured the column of smoke rising from the morning fire.
According to neighbors a loud bang was heard and the fire spread quickly and several people people escaped the fire at the house. Neighbors said the house had been abandonded for a number of years but was frequently occupied by squatters, possible crystal meth and other drug users.
Firefighters had the fire under control quickly and remained on the scene to prevent flare-ups and cars in the neighboring parking lot were being moved as the house would probably be brought down as it was gutted in the blaze. Ohai Street was blocked during firefighting operations as both fire and police vehicles lined the street.
According to fire dispatch the 2,000 square-foot home was built in 1938 with a single-wall construction design. The estimated value of the destroyed home was $250,000. A county excavator was brought in to knock down the remaining frame of the home to prevent it from falling onto the neighboring property.
The Red Cross was dispatched to the scene in case anyone was displaced by the fire and they would be provided with food, shelter and clothing.