Hawaii’s fire department has confirmed at least three people have died in a fire at a landmark Honolulu apartment building near Waikiki beach.
More than 60 firefighters are battling the multiple-alarm fire in the Marco Polo residential apartment building, which started on the 26th floor and spread to the 27th floor engulfing several apartments in thick black smoke.
Honolulu Fire Department spokesman Captain David Jenkins said the number of fatalities could change, adding that at least 12 people have needed medical help and were being treated by paramedics.
Several people are reportedly trapped inside the “hot zone” floor levels, being advised to stay where they were as they could not be evacuated safely.
The high-rise blaze comes just four weeks after the deadly 24-storey Grenfell Tower fire in London claimed the lives of at least 80 people.
Troy Yasuda, who lives in a building across the street, was giving water to people who evacuated.
“They were choking from the smoke,” he said, adding that people told him they evacuated through dark stairwells.
Honolulu, HI, United States
Fire at Marco Polo Apartmentshttps://t.co/srjbxpCFEz
— Beautiful Wolf (@INeverKn3wThat) July 15, 2017
Police were yelling through megaphones for people still inside to come down, Yasuda said. He watched as people were carried out.
Hawaii News Now is reporting the 36-storey condominium on Kapiolani Bouvelard did not have fire sprinklers.
Honolulu Fire Department Manuel P. Neves told HNN the three people killed were on the 26th floor: “It’s very difficult.”
“Without a doubt, if there was sprinklers in this apartment, the fire would be contained to the unit origin,” he said.
Resident Mitch Silva, who lives on the 29th floor, told HNN he started smelling smoke about 2.3pm local time.
“I started smelling smoke and this woman was screaming help and I looked out on the lanai and even though the fire is on the mauka side, the entire floor was engulfed in smoke,” he said.
The fire has now reached five alarms. Officials say it initially started on the 26th floor, and has since spread to…
“It’s been an orderly evacuation,” said security guard Leonard Rosa, who was answering phones from the front lobby as police and firefighters were going door-to-door.
Firefighters were checking on reports that there were people trapped in their units, Jenkins said.
One resident who declined to give his name said he made it to safety after climbing the stairs from the 29th floor. The man said there was so much smoke, he could hardly see.
The 36-story Marco Polo condo, a landmark in Honolulu, was built in 1975 and has 568 residential units.