Honolulu tower blaze kills three

Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE -

Flames ripped through three floors of a Honolulu tower block, killing three peo­ple in­clud­ing a mother and her adult son on Fri­day, of­fi­cials and me­dia said. The blaze at the 36-storey Marco Polo con­do­minium com­plex sent thick black smoke pour­ing over the city, a month to the day af­ter a deadly high-rise fire in Lon­don. Fire­fight­ers sprayed wa­ter onto the flames from nearby bal­conies and brought them un­der con­trol at about 6.30 pm lo­cal time (0430 GMT yes­ter­day), four hours af­ter the fire be­gan, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Cald­well told re­porters.

“I looked down I could see the bil­low­ing smoke com­ing up,” res­i­dent Ron Chiarot­tino said. “I heard three women’s voices scream­ing, plead­ing, moan­ing, ‘Please help me, please’ con­tin­u­ous scream­ing for five or ten min­utes, and then I didn’t hear any­more.” The Honolulu Star-Ad­ver­tiser news­pa­per said a mother and her adult son were among the three peo­ple who per­ished on the 26th floor, where the fire started. At least 12 other peo­ple were in­jured, it added.

Fire Chief Manuel Neves told re­porters that the build­ing did not have a sprin­kler sys­tem. “With­out a doubt if there was sprin­klers in this apart­ment, the fire would be con­tained to the unit of ori­gin ... the unit (where) the fire started,” he said. More than 100 fire­fight­ers tack­led the fire and of­fi­cers were con­duct­ing a room-by-room search, a task that could take sev­eral hours, he added.

The build­ing was con­structed in 1971, be­fore the city be­gan re­quir­ing sprin­kler sys­tems, the Star-Ad­ver­tiser news­pa­per said. In Lon­don, at least 80 peo­ple were killed when a fire gut­ted the 24-story Gren­fell Tower block on June 14. That build­ing was also built in the 1970s and did not have a sprin­kler sys­tem. Im­ages posted on­line on Fri­day showed orange flames rag­ing on sev­eral floors and de­bris fall­ing from win­dows. There were no im­me­di­ate re­ports on what caused the blaze in Honolulu.

“We were all try­ing to help as much as we could ... but there was a fire and you could see it spread­ing,” said 72-year-old res­i­dent Karen Hast­ings, who was in the build­ing when the fire broke out. One fire­fighter and four res­i­dents were taken to hos­pi­tal while eight other res­i­dents were treated at the scene, the Star-Ad­ver­tiser said. Vol­un­teers were look­ing af­ter res­i­dents at a nearby park, the Hawaii Red Cross said on Twit­ter. The fire forced the clo­sure of a ma­jor road in front of the con­do­minium com­plex, the Honolulu po­lice de­part­ment said on Twit­ter.

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