The Latest: Some in Honolulu high-rise did not hear alarm

The Latest: Some in Honolulu high-rise did not hear alarm

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Estimated read time: 6-7 minutes

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HONOLULU (AP) — The Latest on the deadly high-rise apartment building fire in Honolulu (all times local):

3:55 p.m.

Gordon Kihune lives on the 13th floor of the Marco Polo apartments and has lived in the building for about 12 years. He says he hasn't seen any fire extinguishers or hoses in the building that he can remember, and didn't hear the alarms going off when the fire broke out.

He said he "only recognized the fact that there was something wrong when I saw the fire trucks pull up, and then I poked my head out, then I could hear the alarm."

Kihune says he has a "bit of a hearing problem" with high-pitched sounds, but since the alarm is in the hallway and not close to his apartment, he could not hear it. He added that "For people that have that disability, it could be a reason for not hearing it."

Kihune also said that after the firefighters went up to battle the blaze there was water running down the stairwells and he slipped on his way out.

Angela Kim lives on the 30th floor and says that while there have been fire alarm tests, the siren was not loud enough to hear.


3:30 p.m.

Douglas Hesley, branch president of Associa Hawaii, the management group that runs the Marco Polo building, said in a brief statement Saturday that there will be an emergency board meeting to discuss recovery efforts.

Hesley said, "Our thoughts and prayers are with the Marco Polo community."

When asked if an Associated Press reporter could enter the building to see the fire damage, Hesley declined and said he was uncertain of the structural integrity of the fire-damaged floors. He deferred to the fire department to determine the safety of the building and who could be allowed in.

Residents are being allowed back in to the high-rise and at least one has ventured into the fire-damaged area without being stopped. A KITV reporter also entered the burnt section of building Saturday morning.

Hesley said he could not comment on past fire drills or safety plans that were in place at the time of the fire.


2:30 p.m.

While no sprinkler systems were installed in the Honolulu high-rise where fire broke out and killed three people, a former owner of a unit in the building says the structure did have fire hoses and extinguishers.

Tyler Takahata says he owned a unit on the 28th floor until 2015, when he sold the apartment to an elderly woman who was downsizing. He says he was never worried about fire during the five years he lived there because the building had water hoses and extinguishers.

"The fire suppression system seemed adequate. There were hardly any false alarms," he said. "There was a fire safety plan in place."

His former apartment is just above the unit where the blaze started and is now completely destroyed. He doesn't know the whereabouts of the woman who moved in.

"Looking at what we're seeing now, I believe they definitely needed sprinklers," he said.


1:30 p.m.

Melanie Takeyama lives on the 7th floor of the Marco Polo building where a fire killed three people on Friday.

Takeyama said Saturday that she came into her apartment around 2 a.m. and there was only a little bit of water inside, but when she returned later the entire apartment was soaked.

"It was terrible, my sofa is soaked, my living room the bathroom the bedroom the kitchen, everything is just wasted," she said.

Bruce Campbell manages an apartment on the 33rd floor. He says the apartment didn't have any interior damage, but everything on the outside where the apartment has a balcony was pitch black for about 10 stories below and above the unit.

He walked down the stairwell where the fire started.

It "was a very eerie experience," he said. "When we got to 28 and looked in, it's like a war zone in there, it's completely burnt out."


11:50 a.m.

A Hawaiian Airlines in-flight manager and his mother were among the victims of a high-rise fire in Honolulu.

Pearl City Community Church Pastor Phil Reller told The Honolulu Star-Advertiser ( ) that police confirmed that two of the victims in the Honolulu high-rise fire are his mother and brother.

Reller told the newspaper he received a call from his brother, Britt Reller, 54, saying smoke was filling the condominium, Unit 2613. His brother said he had been taking a shower and rushed out but was unable to get to their 85-year-old mother.

His brother said smoke was filling his room, and he had crawled under a bed. "He couldn't reach my mother," Phil Reller said.

He said police later confirmed that his brother and mother, Melba Jeannine Dilley, were among the dead.

Britt Reller worked as an in-flight manager for Hawaiian Airlines.

In an emailed statement to The Associated Press on Saturday, Robin Sparling, vice president of in-flight services at the airline, said Reller "was a talented manager and caring co-worker and we will miss him terribly. Our hearts are with Britt's brother, Phil, and his entire family."


11:20 a.m.

Photos taken Saturday by a KITV ( ) reporter show the charred remains on the 26th floor of a high-rise apartment building in Honolulu where three people were found dead after a blaze on Friday.

The images show a hallway leading to the unit where the deceased were found, KITV told The Associated Press. There are puddles of water on the floor, black and grey soot covering the walls and ceilings, and burnt debris scattered across the floor.

One photo shows the burnt entranceway to an apartment where a three-tiered table stands among the ashes and charred debris. Support beams can be seen sticking out through sunken, burnt-out walls in the entranceway. What appears to be a fire hose is shown on the floor in a large puddle of water.

Another photo from a nearby apartment shows a sooty door with a large hole above the doorknob.


9:30 a.m.

Most residents will be allowed back into a high-rise apartment building in Honolulu after a deadly fire killed three people.

The Honolulu Fire Department says in a Saturday release that most residents of the 36-story Marco Polo apartment building should be able to return, but three floors will remain closed because of heavy smoke, water and fire damage.

The fire started on the 26th floor Friday afternoon, forcing residents to evacuate the wave-shaped building near the tourist destination of Waikiki.

The Honolulu Medical Examiner's Office will identity the victims and notify family members.

The fire department says 12 other people were treated for injuries, and five were transported to hospitals in serious condition.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.


10:05 p.m.

A fire that broke out Friday afternoon in a unit on the 26th floor of a Honolulu high-rise left three people dead and 12 injured.

All of the dead were found on the floor where the fire broke out, Fire Chief Manuel Neves said. Firefighters continued to go through the building to extinguish any hot spots and look for more victims.

A shelter was set up at a nearby school where about 50 residents had gathered.

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.

She said the fire blew up and went flying out the windows before she ran to a lower floor to get fresh air.

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