3 dead, several injured in massive fire at Honolulu residential high-rise
A fire broke out on Friday afternoon on the 26th floor of at the Marco Polo apartments, where 3 people were found dead, Fire Chief Manuel Neves said. The blaze spread to at least the 27th floor and several units, said Honolulu Fire Department spokesman Capt. David Jenkins.
The building is not required to have fire sprinklers, which would have confined the blaze to the unit where it started, Neves said.
Cory La Roe, who is from Florida and stationed in Hawaii with the Air Force, works night shifts and was asleep when sirens woke him at about 2:15 pm Honolulu time. La Roe said he saw an elderly couple come down that looked 'sooty' who were taken to the hospital. He saw other people brought out on stretchers.
He didn't realize that the building didn't have a sprinkler system and was surprised that was the case.
Paramedics treated several injured people and at least two people were sent to the hospital in serious but stable condition.
One resident who declined to give his name said he made it to safety after climbing the stairs from the 29th floor. The man said there was so much smoke, he could hardly see.
Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said the city needs to look at passing a law requiring older buildings be retrofitted with sprinklers.
No one from the building said they remembered recent fire drills, but Anna Viggiano, who lives on the 6th floor, said there were some after a 2013 fire that broke out two floors above her. She said since then she doesn't hesitate to evacuate when she hears the alarm.
The blaze was still burning some four hours after it broke out as the sun set, but it was down to mostly embers by then, an official said. A shelter was set up at a nearby school where about 50 residents had gathered late in the evening.