Gene Parola came home to scary scene.
Fire trucks and police blocked off Young Street as smoke billowed from vents of a two level underground garage beneath the highrise complex.
One big concern was for residents of a skilled nursing facility on the second floor.
"It would be difficult for those people because many of them are bedridden and it would be a difficult thing to get them out," said Parola.
Fortunately fire crews were able to contain the fire quickly and prevent its spread.
The building contains more than 160 units.
Some are owner-occupied and others are senior rentals
But administrators also worried about the effect of fumes on residents and staff.
"As a precautionary measure, we evacuated two floors to prevent them from inhaling any smoke or anything," said Dee Robinson.
An elderly couple returning home said as they were parking their car, it caught fire, producing much of the acrid smoke that spread in the neighborhood.
Staff said the couple and two others were treated for smoke inhalation, but otherwise were fine.
Robinson says the garage is equipped with sprinklers, and fortunately one of the first employees on scene knew exactly what to do.
"Our first responder is a fire man who is the head of our operations department and he works for the Honolulu Fire Department. Luckily he was on property at the time to be able to respond," said Robinson.
Residents and staff were able to return to the building a half hour after crews gave the all clear.
The skilled nursing facility, Hale Ola Kino, praised its staff for responding appropriately to its emergency plan.
It holds month fire drills and during the emergency gathered it's residents in a common area of the building as a precaution in the event it had to evacuate.