A Kalihi family is mourning what was lost, yet grateful for what was not.
Family members spent Good Friday assessing the damage after a fire destroyed their home the day before.
“As we came close to Damien, I said, ‘Hon, it’s gotta be our house or what?!” exclaimed Leopolito Bringas Jr.
And it was. Bringas and his wife were driving home from a shopping trip when they saw the smoke, predicted the danger and thought of one thing.
“I never cared about the house. I was just worried about my son,” said Bringas.
Leon Bringas is disabled from diabetes. He says he was working on his handicapped scooter next to the garage. He went upstairs, heard some pops and saw the smoke.
“I tried to grab the fire extinguisher, but the flame was too hot,” said Leon Bringas. “I tried to stay as long as I could. That’s when a neighbor had to tell me to get out of there.”
A big problem is the one-way street. Imagine a big fire truck trying to get through the street. The family says they heard the truck trying to make the corner several time before crews finally got to the house.
“They had a hard time just getting here. We could hear them,” said Leon Bringas. “By then, all it was was a skeleton on the top of the roof.”
Those tight conditions are terrifying for their neighbors, too. They’re separated by only a sliver of space. The flames damaged one home next door and nearly reacher another.
Leopolito Bringas said he lost several of what he calls his “daughters” — four mint condition Volkswagens fully restored. The red one, just recently starring in an auto show was gutted and melted. The bright paint replaced by black and brown.
“Me and my wife, we were just shaking,” said Leopolito Bringas.
The Bringas are staying at a Waikiki hotel for now. The home that held generations is gone for good.
“We got to start all over again,” said Leopolito Bringas.
Investigators say the fire did about $681,000 in damage. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
The Red Cross is helping the Bringas family as well as 19 others staying at their neighbors’ house.