High-rise blaze kills 3 in Hawaii

36-story build­ing is not re­quired to have fire sprin­klers

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Jen­nifer Sinco Kelle­her, Marco Gar­cia and Audrey Mcavoy

HONOLULU» Karen Hast­ings was in her 31st floor Honolulu apart­ment when she smelled smoke. She ran out to her bal­cony, looked down, and sassw 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 high­rises. 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 As­so­ci­ated Press

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