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Honolulu fire: New photos show charred remains of 26th floor

  • A woman, who exited the Marco Polo apartment complex, is placed in an ambulance as firefighters continue to battle the blaze at the high-rise, Friday, July 14, 2017, in Honolulu. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia) Marco Garcia

  • A Honolulu Fire Department helicopter flies near a fire burning on a floor at the Marco Polo apartment complex, Friday, July 14, 2017, in Honolulu. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia) Marco Garcia

  • An evacuation bus takes residents of the Marco Polo building to a nearby shelter after a deadly fire at the building, Friday, July 14, 2017, in Honolulu. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia) Marco Garcia

  • Volunteers prepare food and drinks at a school for the residents of the Marco Polo building, Friday, July 14, 2017, in Honolulu. A deadly fire broke out in the building killing three people and sent hundreds to a nearby school for the night. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia) Marco Garcia

  • Residents of the Marco Polo building register at a shelter for overnight accommodations after a deadly fire tore through the high rise building, Friday, July 14, 2017, in Honolulu. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia) Marco Garcia

  • Residents of the Marco Polo building arrive at a nearby shelter after a deadly fire tore through the condo, Friday, July 14, 2017, in Honolulu. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia) Marco Garcia

  • Law enforcement officers stand at the scene of a multi-alarm fire at the Marco Polo apartment complex in Honolulu, Friday, July 14, 2017. (AP Photo/Audrey McAvoy) Audrey McAvoy

  • Paramedic checks on woman after exiting the apartments. AP

  • Onlookers stand on a sidewalk as a fire burns at the Marco Polo apartment complex, Friday, July 14, 2017, in Honolulu. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)) Marco Garcia

  • Debris falls off a balcony during a fire at the Marco Polo apartment complex, Friday, July 14, 2017, in Honolulu. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia) Marco Garcia

  • Firefighters work at the scene of a multiple-alarm fire at the Marco Polo apartment complex, Friday, July 14, 2017, in Honolulu. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia) Marco Garcia

  • Smoke from a deadly fire at the Marco Polo apartment complex, covers the Waikiki skyline Friday, July 14, 2017, in Honolulu. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia) Marco Garcia

  • Smoke billows from the upper floors of the Marco Polo apartment complex, Friday, July 14, 2017, in Honolulu. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia) Marco Garcia

  • Firefighters on a lower balcony spray water upwards while trying to contain a fire at the Marco Polo apartments, Friday, July 14, 2017, in Honolulu. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia) Marco Garcia

  • Firefighters on several balconies spray water upwards while trying to contain a fire at the Marco Polo apartment complex, Friday, July 14, 2017, in Honolulu. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia) Marco Garcia



Associated Press
Saturday, July 15, 2017

Karen Hastings was in her 31st floor Honolulu apartment when she smelled smoke. She ran out to her balcony, looked down, and saw flames five floors below her.

“The fire just blew up and went flying right out the windows,” the 71-year-old Hastings said of the first moments of the high-rise blaze that killed at least three people and injured 12. “And that was like a horror movie. Except it wasn’t a horror movie, it was for real.”

The fire broke out Friday afternoon in a unit on the 26th floor, where all three of the dead were found, fire Chief Manuel Neves said.

The building known as the Marco Polo residences is not required to have fire sprinklers, which would have confined the blaze to the unit where it started, Neves said. The 36-floor building near the tourist mecca of Waikiki was built in 1971, before sprinklers were mandatory in high-rises. It has over 500 units.

Late into the night as embers smoldered, firefighters were searching the damaged areas to make sure no additional people perished. The names of the victims haven’t been released.

Hastings said the fearsome flames drove her and a neighbor to run down 14 floors until they found a safe stairwell to get some air.

“We actually saw a person laying on a ledge and I don’t know whether he made it not,” Hastings said.

The building is vast and wave-shaped, and has several sections.

The blaze was mostly confined to a single section, and only the units immediately above it and to the side of it were evacuated, while many residents stayed inside.

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, official said. A shelter was set up at a nearby school where about 50 residents had gathered late in the evening.

Most evacuations went calmly and smoothly, security guard Leonard Rosa said.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said the city needs to look at passing a law requiring older buildings be retrofitted with sprinklers.

“The biggest argument is the affordability,” Caldwell said. “Residents have to pay. It’s pretty expensive. But if it saves a life and it’s your life, it’s worth the cost.”