Police have initiated a Corners Inquest following the death of a 69-year-old man.
On Wednesday, September 12, at approximately 10:35 p.m., Ka’u Patrol Officers and Fire Department personnel responded to a report of a structure fire on Kamaoa Road in Waiohinu.
Upon arrival, emergency personnel extinguished a fire in the kitchen area of the residence. A male party who was assisting the homeowner in attempting to extinguish the blaze prior to arrival of Fire Department personnel was found unresponsive outside the residence. The 69-year-old man has been identified as Gerald Erickson of Kama’oa Road.
It was determined that shortly after the fire started Erickson was summoned by his neighbor to assist in putting out a fire which started in the kitchen area. As the residence began to fill with smoke the homeowner, Lui Salas, told Erickson to go outside and call 911. Shortly thereafter Salas found Erickson outside the house and unresponsive, he immediately began to administer CPR.
Erickson was later transported to the Hilo Medical Center where he was pronounced dead Thursday morning at 3:30 a.m. An autopsy has been ordered to determine the exact cause of death and officers from the Ka’u Patrol Section are continuing this investigation.
The fire at the 4-bedroom, 2,000-square-foot home appears to have been started by an unattended pot on the propane stove. Fire personnel estimated damage to the structure at $88,000, and said the home also had extensive smoke damage.