'Like a horror movie' - Three people killed in high-rise apartment fire in Hawaii



Associated Press

A blaze in a high-rise apartment building yesterday has killed three and injured 12 in Hawaii.

Another 12 people were injured when a fire broke out on the 26th floor of the Marco Polo residences.
Source: Associated Press

Karen Hastings was in her 31st floor Honolulu apartment when she smelled smoke. She ran out to her balcony, looked down, and saw 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.

"And that was like a horror movie. Except it wasn't a horror movie, it was for real."

The fire broke out yesterday 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 high-rises. It has over 500 units.

Late into the night as embers smouldered, firefighters were searching the damaged areas to make sure no additional people perished. 

Hastings said the fearsome flames drove her and a neighbour 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 or 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.

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