Three People Killed in Honolulu Skyscraper Fire; Local Pastor Loses Mother and Brother

The charred exterior of the Marco Polo building. (Kent Nishimura/AFP via Getty Images)
The charred exterior of the Marco Polo building. (Kent Nishimura/AFP via Getty Images)

A 36-story residential tower in Honolulu caught fire on Friday afternoon, killing three people and injuring at least a dozen as flames spread across three floors.

The Marco Polo tower overlooks the beachfront tourist district of Waikiki and was built in the 1970s, before sprinkler systems were required, Mayor Kirk Caldwell told reporters.

So there was nothing to contain the blaze when it started on the 26th floor, about 2:30 p.m., according to Hawaii News Now. 

Flames then spread to the floors above, fire chief Manuel Neves said at a news conference. And for hours, debris, including shards of glass and a chunk of burning wall, rained down on the streets and balconies below.

“I heard three women screaming, screaming,” Ron Chiaritino, who lives nearby, told Hawaii News Now, crying as he spoke. “And then I didn’t hear them.”

Three people were found dead near the origin of the blaze, Caldwell said.

The victims weren’t publicly identified. But a pastor, Phill Reller, told the Honolulu Star Advertiser that police confirmed that his brother and 85-year-old mother were among the dead.

Reller’s brother called him as smoke filled the 26th-floor condominium complex, the pastor told the newspaper. His brother was unable to reach their mother, the pastor said, and crawled under a bed before the call ended.

A firefighter and three others were hospitalized among at least a dozen injured, according to the newspaper.

“We had to evacuate our firefighters two or three times,” Neves, the fire chief, told reporters.

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SOURCE: Avi Selk 
The Washington Post