MAN ID’D IN FA­TAL NORTH KONA HOUSE FIRE

Cause of blaze still un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion

West Hawaii Today - - Front Page - BY TIF­FANY DEMASTERS tde­mas­ters@west­hawai­ito­day.com

KALAOA — Au­thor­i­ties have iden­ti­fied a man found dead in a North Kona house fire ear­lier this month.

The body of Wayne Perry, 53, of Kalaoa, North Kona, was dis­cov­ered in the down­stairs por­tion of the home af­ter fire crews ex­tin­guished the blaze on Nov. 3 on Olu­olu Street in Kona High­lands sub­di­vi­sion.

The Hawaii Fire Depart­ment re­ceived the call of a struc­ture fire at 6:10 a.m. When fire­fight­ers ar­rived on scene, the back­side of the house was en­gulfed in flames. Bat­tal­ion Chief John Whit­man said when they first ar­rived there was no one re­ported to be home at the time.

The vic­tim was found later near where the fire orig­i­nated, Whit­man said.

Hawaii Po­lice Depart­ment Ma­jor Robert Wag­ner said

Perry’s iden­tity was de­ter­mined through den­tal records. The cause of death was re­ported to be smoke in­hala­tion.

The cause of the fire is still un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

On Mon­day, yel­low tape blocked the home’s drive­way and a large piece of card­board was propped up by the house’s fence with black words that read: “Keep out.”

Few neigh­bors were out, but Sean Hilla, who lives across the street from Perry, was home. He was one of the first re­spon­ders to the fire be­fore the fire­fight­ers ar­rived.

Over the week­end, Hilla said, a church or com­mu­nity group was at the house haul­ing stuff from the home and load­ing it into vans.

“Every­one was re­ally quiet and somber,” Hilla said.

Hilla added that a rel­a­tive came to his home over the week­end and thanked him for ev­ery­thing.

“They were re­ally nice,” he said.

Hilla was awake early on Nov. 3 as he was prep­ping for a day trip to Mau­nakea with his brother, Ryan Ger­wig, who was vis­it­ing from out of town.

Hilla and Ger­wig were watch­ing the moon set when the fire erupted be­fore their eyes. Grab­bing their shoes, they ran to the house.

Ger­wig, an off-duty fire­fighter from Boca Ra­ton, Florida, kicked in the front door and did a sweep of the first floor to make sure no one was trapped. Hilla said he got some neigh­bors to get out gar­den hoses and start soak­ing down the neigh­bor­ing house.

As the broth­ers went into the next-door neigh­bor’s yard to ac­cess the back of the house, they were met with a wall of heat.

“There was no get­ting in there with­out jeop­ar­diz­ing our own safety,” Ger­wig said of the down­stairs por­tion of the house.

Ger­wig and his brother stepped back once fire crews ar­rived. They pro­vided a state­ment, then went on to Mau­nakea.

“It was the fastest fire I’ve ever seen,” Hilla said Mon­day.

TIF­FANY DEMASTERS/ WEST HAWAII TODAY

Yel­low tape blocks the drive­way of a home on Olu­olu Street in Kona High­lands af­ter it was se­verely dam­aged in a fire on Nov. 3. A man found dead in the house af­ter the blaze was ex­tin­guished was iden­ti­fied Mon­day as Wayne Perry, 53, of Kaaloa, North Kona.

PHOTO/ COUTESY

Big Is­land po­lice iden­ti­fied the man killed in a Nov. 3 house fire in Kona High­lands as Wayne Perry.

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