HONOLULU (KHON2) — Two weeks into the new year and the Red Cross has already supported three dozen people across the state affected by house fires, and to these families, it is more than a roof that is lost.
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Days after the fire, the smell of smoke still lingers on Nicole Aguinaldo’s clothes. She should be celebrating her 19 birthday on Thursday. Instead, she removed ash from the belongings she recovered from Tuesday’s fire that scorched her Waipahu home.
“This is my third round of the same batch of clothes.” Aguinaldo said, “I’m separated from some of my family members, and my cousin is helping me do laundry with what I recovered.”
The family of four is staying with different family members.
They went back inside once the blaze was extinguished to find the second story floor collapsed onto the kitchen and living room. They took what they could, but she said it was not much.
Two other families who lived in the house were also displaced.
Honolulu Fire Department Inspector Carl Otsuka said the cause of the fire was undetermined but believes it started in the cart port.
One man who attempted to put out the flames suffered from smoke inhalation.
Otsuka said, “If the fire is too big, don’t try to fight the fire, you might end up either getting burned or worse, lose your life.”
At least three house fires have been reported this week alone.
HFD will hold a “Community Risk Reduction Week” from Jan. 18 to Jan. 22 to share educational information to homeowners on ways to maintain their homes safe.
Otsuka said, “This includes smoke detectors, having an evacuation plan, sprinklers if you could put it into your home.”
For families affected by fires, it could mean putting future plans on hold. For Aguinaldo, it is deciding if attending college could be attained.
Aguinaldo said, “They want me to continue just because they are telling me, oh you don’t have to worry about the money as long as you go to school and you graduate.”
As soon as word got out, community members began raising funds for the family through GoFundMe.
“I’m really grateful for that,” Aguinaldo said. “Because I didn’t think that this could happen to my family at all or any of my family members that are close to me.”