3 dead, 12 injured in Honolulu high-rise fire
A five-alarm blaze swept through several floors of the Marco Polo apartment building, on Friday.
HONOLULU - At least three people are confirmed dead, a dozen injured, and five hospitalized -- including a firefighter -- after a five-alarm blaze swept through several floors of a Honolulu high-rise, on Friday.
More than a dozen units at the Marco Polo Apartment Building, along Kapiolani Boulevard, are now heavily damaged, according to the Honolulu Fire Department.
Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell declared that fire under control a little after 6:30 p.m., Friday evening.
Fire officials say by midnight the blaze was fully extinguished.
They say a majority of the residents will be allowed back inside their units, with the exception of those who live on the 26th, 27th and 28th floors of the Marco Polo. Residents are being asked to call the building's management, or the front desk for further details.
Firefighters will remain on-scene, to watch for any fire rekindles or flare-ups.
Clean-up efforts are on-going, while residents in-need are being assisted by the Red Cross.
"I'm really overwhelmed. I've never seen a fire like this," resident, Lei Tanouye said.
Tanouye lives on the 27th floor of Marco Polo, and watched from across the street as flames came dangerously close to her unit.
"I just parked off on the side street and started counting the building floors," she told Island News. "Its frightening.. yes, and I'm just really overwhelmed."
More than a hundred firefighters responded to the high-rise fire, and immediately pushed the crowd back after debris began to fall from the building.
"I saw the flames and the fire.. next door.. and I just went crazy," Marco Polo resident Barbara Hudman said. "I kept saying, 'There's a fire. There's a fire,' and I just kept, you know, screaming."
The Honolulu Fire Department says its crews responded to the fire at the 36-story high-rise after receiving multiple calls around 2:15 p.m. Friday afternoon.
When crews arrived on-scene, fire officials say thick clouds of black smoke could be seen billowing out from the 26th floor.
There were several residents and family members reporting that their loved ones were inside burning building.
Peter Lang told Island News his elderly mother and her caretaker were stuck on the 22nd floor for hours during the blaze.
"We have been here for almost two hours trying to get her down from the building," Lang said.
Many residents inside at the time of the fire, were instructed to shelter in place until emergency personnel could escort them to safety, fire officials said in a statement.
Firefighters battled the massive fire for more than four hours, before it was brought under control.
According to Honolulu Fire Chief Manuel Neves, the blaze broke out on the 26th floor and moved upward eventually reaching the 28th floor of the building.
"It's very difficult even with the equipment that we have to make our way to the floor of the fire and the room of the fire," Chief Neves said in a press conference.
Smoke could be seen exiting Marco Polo from both the Mauka and Makai sides of the tower.
Fire officials says a few times this afternoon, even the firefighters had to be evacuated out of the burning building.
One firefighter was treated and transported for heat exhaustion, but has since been released.
"We are going to go room by room.. go back through and do a secondary search to make sure we haven't missed anybody or there isn't anybody in their apartment," Chief Neves said.
The fire closed all eastbound lanes on Kapiolani Blvd. Friday afternoon between McCully St. and Hausten St.
The American Red Cross opened a shelter at Iolani School for affected residents.
The fire remains under investigation.
A cause has yet to be determined.