Deadly Waipahu fire caused by electrical malfunction

Fire investigators: no smoke alarms in the home; books, furniture blocked front door

Published  4:35 PM HST Mar 07, 2013
HONOLULU -

Investigators from the Honolulu Fire Department completed its probe of a fire at a home on Apowale Street in Waipahu on Tuesday that left two people dead.

Investigators say the fire accidentally began in the kitchen and was caused by an electrical malfunction in a wall outlet behind the refrigerator.

The fire occurred at around 12:45 a.m.  Crews found the home engulfed in flames when they arrived.  They were also told there might still be people inside the house.

Firefighters entered the home and found two bodies on the home's first floor -- a man in the living room at the front of the house and a woman in a bedroom in the rear of the house.  They were identified as 84-year-old Haruki Tokita and his daughter, 55-year-old Karen Tokita.

A third person, 51-year-old Randy Tokita, son of the elder Tokita, escaped without injury and was outside of the home when fire crews arrived.

Damage is estimated at $450,000.

Investigators say there were no smoke alarms in the house, which delayed notification to the occupants in the home.

Fire officials also say there were books and furniture blocking the front door that made it difficult to quickly open the door and exit the house.

The Honolulu Fire Department urges the public to make a fire escape plan that can be executed by those who live in your home.

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