Police open arson investigation into historic hotel fire

Fire officials: Started as dumpster fire but smoke quickly spread

 UPDATED 3:25 PM HST Dec 12, 2012
Hotel Fire Damage
HONOLULU -

A fire at the Sheraton Moana Surfrider in Waikiki forced dozens of guests to evacuate their hotel rooms early Wednesday morning and police have opened a first-degree arson investigation.l

It happened at around 2:30 a.m.  Fire officials say it started as a dumpster fire adjacent to the hotel, but the smoke quickly spread to the hallways and guest rooms on as many as three floors.

Fire officials say the flames rose six stories to the roof of a wing added to the hotel in 1918.  The blaze broke some first and second floor windows.

Todd Lyons didn't hesitate in getting those around him to safety.

"Walked out onto my balcony and looked down as I faced the front of the hotel and saw just a bunch of smoke and flames and called the front desk," said Lyons.  "Walked out and the whole room had filled with smoke and the hallway had filled with smoke and we pulled the handle and got everybody off the seventh floor where I staying."

Fire officials say no one was injured.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Hawaii says the exterior of the hotel's Banyan wing sustained minor damage.  The Honolulu Coffee Company, located next to the dumpster, had smoke, fire and water damage, and will remain closed until further notice.

Kalakaua Avenue near Seaside Avenue was shut down while firefighters extinguished the flames.

The landmark hotel opened in 1901.

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