Honolulu High-Rise Fire That Left 3 Dead Like 'Horror Movie' - NBC 10 Philadelphia
National & International News
The day’s top national and international news

Honolulu High-Rise Fire That Left 3 Dead Like 'Horror Movie'

The burning high-rise was not equipped with sprinklers, Honolulu's mayor, Kirk Caldwell, said

    processing...

    NEWSLETTERS

    More than 60 firefighters are battling a three-alarm fire in a Honolulu high-rise apartment building Friday, July 14. Honolulu Fire Department spokesman Capt. David Jenkin's said the fire started on the 26th floor and spread to at least the 27th floor.

    (Published Saturday, July 15, 2017)

    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 that killed at least three people and injured 12. "And that was like a horror movie. Except it wasn't a horror movie, it was for real."

    The fire broke out Friday afternoon 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.

    Protesters Removed From Senate Health Care Bill Hearing

    [NATL] Health Care Bill Protesters Forcibly Removed From Senate Finance Committee Room

    Protesters chanting "No cuts for Medicaid, save our liberty!" were forcibly removed from the Senate Finance Committee room Monday as lawmakers attempted to convene a hearing into the Republican Graham Cassidy health care bill.

    (Published Monday, Sept. 25, 2017)

    Late into the night as embers smoldered, firefighters were searching the damaged areas to make sure no additional people perished. The names of the victims haven't been released.

    Photos taken Saturday by a KITV reporter show the charred remains on the 26th floor. 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.

    Hastings said the fearsome flames drove her and a neighbor 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 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.

    The blaze was still burning some four hours after it broke out as the sun set, but it was down to mostly embers by then, official said. A shelter was set up at a nearby school where about 50 residents had gathered late in the evening.

    Most evacuations went calmly and smoothly, security guard Leonard Rosa said. The fire department said Saturday morning most residents will be allowed to return home, but the 26th-28th floors will remain closed because of extensive fire, water and smoke damage to about a dozen apartment units.

    Cory La Roe, who is from Florida and stationed in Hawaii with the Air Force, works night shifts and was asleep when sirens woke him at about 2:15 p.m.

    "First thing, I was kind of disoriented and confused about what was going on, so I looked out my window and saw people running away from the building, looking back toward it."

    La Roe said he didn't hear any verbal announcements and there were no flashing fire alarm lights in the building, but "after I saw people running out and went out to the hallway, I knew it was a fire alarm."

    He saw an elderly couple come down that looked "sooty" who were taken to the hospital. He saw other people brought out on stretchers.

    Lebron James: Trump Trying to 'Divide Us'

    [NATL] Lebron James: Trump Trying to 'Divide Us'

    Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James spoke Monday about the NFL protest saying President Trump is trying to divide the nation.

    (Published Monday, Sept. 25, 2017)

    He didn't realize that the building didn't have a sprinkler system and was surprised that was the case.

    "That's one thing that I wasn't aware of prior to moving in," La Roe said. "It was definitely shocking for me to know that there weren't any sprinklers installed in the building."

    Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said the city needs to look at passing a law requiring older buildings be retrofitted with sprinklers.

    "The biggest argument is the affordability," Caldwell said. "Residents have to pay. It's pretty expensive. But if it saves a life and it's your life, it's worth the cost."

    No one from the building said they remembered recent fire drills, but Anna Viggiano, who lives on the 6th floor, said there were some after a 2013 fire that broke out two floors above her. She said since then she doesn't hesitate to evacuate when she hears the alarm.

    "It was scary," she said. "It was terrifying."

    North Korean Minister: Trump Tweet Declared War

    [NATL] North Korean Foreign Minister: 'The United States Declared War'

    North Korea's top diplomat says President Donald Trump's tweet that leader Kim Jong Un "won't be around much longer" amounted to a declaration of war against his country.

    Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho told reporters Monday that what he called Trump's "declaration of war" gives North Korea "every right" under the U.N. Charter to take countermeasures, "including the right to shoot down the United States strategic bombers even they're not yet inside the airspace border of our country."

    Ri Yong also said that "all options will be on the operations table" for the government of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

    Ri referred to Trump's tweet Saturday that said: "Just heard Foreign Minister of North Korea speak at U.N. If he echoes thoughts of Little Rocket Man, they won't be around much longer!"

    (Published Monday, Sept. 25, 2017)