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Fire kills two on tiny island in east central Okinawa

Date Posted: 2006-01-24

Flames ripped through a wooden house early Sunday morning on Tsuken Island, killing the building owner and his friend.

Uruma City officials say the fire was the island’s first in more than 30 years. Tsuken Island, part of the Uruma community formed last year merging Gushikawa, Katsuren, Ishikawa and Yonashiro, has only one fire engine and five firemen.

It took firemen 45 minutes to douse the fire. “I tried hard to get the fire out,” fireman Isao Shinya said. “I couldn’t get the people out. I feel so sorry about them. Our island has always been safe, and I thought this island would not have fire in my lifetime.” The bodies of building owner Hironori Gima and his friend Hiromi Toguchi were found in the rubble.

Hironori’s mother was living in another house nearby. Upon learing of her son’s death, she went into shock and collapsed.

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