In the wee hours of Wednesday morning, a delivery driver from Hilo helped to save lives — and more than $10 million in fire damage at the Target store in Kona. A fire had erupted by the loading dock.
Both the Hawaii County Police and Fire Departments asked Meadow Gold Driver Kelcey Ishimine if he could help them with the early morning blaze.
The fire broke out before 1:45 a.m. on the other side of the island while Ishimine was beginning a routine delivery run from Meadow Gold in Hilo — to Target, in Kona.
He arrived to find the entrance blocked by police — but an officer approached him.
“He asked me if I could, if I was willing to help and I said, ‘Yeah, for sure,’ you know. And then he called over the fire chief, and he asked me again if I was willing to help them out so I said ‘Yeah.'”
Flames and black smoke were coming from under the back end of a trailer that also was marked with a red sign saying that flammable materials were inside.
Ishimine says, “I dropped my trailer on the road, on the side of the road — the officer said he’s going to watch it — and then from there I went around, reversed my tractor underneath the container.”
He couldn’t see flames — but they were there — and helium and propane tanks inside were blowing up.
“I couldn’t hear anything because all my windows was up too, cause the smoke was just – ho – just terrible. Like, all that chemicals and all that. I’m not too sure what was burning in there.”
There were no injuries — and the fire caused roughly $50,000 in damage — but officials say Target was spared more than $10 million in damage.
In a statement, Target spokeswoman Danielle Schumann said, “We appreciate the assistance of local authorities after our location on Makala Boulevard in Kailua-Kona experienced a fire in a trailer at the back of the store during the early morning hours of April 17. We were able to open our store to guests, while store teams are partnering with crews to dispose of damaged items and clean up the area. We are also supporting authorities in any way that we can be helpful to their investigation.”
Fire officials say someone was seen in the area 16 minutes before the fire broke out.
Ishimine says he feels appreciated by firefighters and police — that he was simply in the right place at the right time — and was happy to help.