Three dead as blaze tears through Hawaii high-rise

2017-07-15 12:42

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Honolulu - At least three people were killed and a dozen injured Friday when a massive fire tore through a 36-story apartment complex in Honolulu, local media reported.

Flames and thick black smoke could be seen billowing from the building as the blaze, which burned for more than four hours, sent glass from the windows raining down.

Authorities warned the death toll could rise as they scoured the scene of the charred building that had no sprinkler system.

A woman and her adult son were among the victims, who all died on the 26th floor, the Honolulu Star Advertiser said.

About 12 residents and one firefighter were injured, according to the newspaper. The firefighter and three others were taken to hospital in serious condition.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell tweeted just before 7:00 pm (0500 GMT) that the fire at the Marco Polo Building was now "under control."

"Mahalo to all first responders," Caldwell wrote, using a Hawaiian word for "thank you."

However firefighters later responded to a "flare-up" in the building.

At least 100 fire personnel and more than 30 fire department units responded to the blaze, which was initially reported as burning through the 26th floor but then spread to multiple units across the 25th and up to the 28th floor.

Hawaii Red Cross volunteers assisted evacuees in a local park and a shelter was opened at a local school.

Emergency Medical Services spokeswoman Shayne Enright told the Star Advertiser that paramedics were carrying out "emergency treatment with a triage location inside the building."

Some residents complained about how long it took fire crews to reach the building and evacuate it.

"With all of these fire trucks, I can't understand why they can't put it out," Barbara Hudman, who has lived at the Marco Polo since 1979, told the Star Advertiser. "Something is screwed up."

Troy Yasuda, who lives in a building across the street, helped evacuees by giving them water. "They were choking from the smoke," he said.

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