At least three people were reported dead after a large fire broke out at a Honolulu high-rise condominium building on Friday, sending flames and smoke billowing out from the tower’s upper floors and causing people to flee to safety.
Honolulu Fire Capt. David Jenkins said the fire department has initial reports of three fatalities in the fire, which swelled to five alarms. The department has no information of anyone trapped but firefighters are going door to door to confirm the status of affected units, he said.
The fire at the Marco Polo condominium building broke out at around 2:15 p.m. local time (8:15 p.m. ET) and started on the 26th floor, Jenkins said earlier. The 36-story building has 568 residential units, NBC affiliate KHNL reported. By Friday evening the fire had spread to the 28th floor, the station reported.
Twelve people were treated by EMS, and four patients were transported to a local hospital, Jenkins said.
“As far as how the conditions are, we had to evacuate our firefighters about two or three times. It’s very difficult,” Honolulu Fire Department Fire Chief Manuel P. Neves told the station.
The fire spread to multiple units after it broke out, Jenkins said. Smoke poured from the blaze and nearby units were evacuated, Jenkins said. Mitch Silva, who lives on the 29th floor, told KHNL that the floor was filled with smoke.
“I started smelling smoke and this woman was screaming help,” Silva told the station. Even though the fire was on the other side, he said “the entire floor was engulfed in smoke.”
Troy Yasuda, who lives in a building across the street, told The Associated Press he 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.
Debris falling from the fire also caused secondary fires on floors below, Jenkins told KHNL. Approximately 100 firefighters were on the scene, he said. A cause of the fire is still undetermined, he said.
Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said a nearby community park was made available for evacuees. The American Red Cross said it was assisting those displaced by the fire. The building, built in 1975, is just east of Waikiki.