Officials: At least three dead in Honolulu high-rise fire; building has no sprinklers

iStock/Thinkstock(HONOLULU) — At least three people died and approximately another 12 were injured Friday in a massive four-alarm fire that swept through a Honolulu high-rise apartment building that lacks a sprinkler system, fire department officials said.

At 6:47 p.m. local time, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell tweeted, “Fire at Marco Polo Building in Waikiki is officially ‘under control.’ Mahalo to all first responders.” Firefighters responded to the blaze around 2:15 p.m. local time.

The fire began on the 26th floor — where the victims were found — and spread to at least the 28th floor of the 31-story Marco Polo building, Honolulu Fire Department spokesman Capt. David Jenkins said.

Jenkins said in a statement that “personnel discovered and confirmed three fatalities during search operations. Approximately 12 occupants received medical attention by Emergency Medical Services personnel. Four people, including one firefighter, were transported in serious condition to nearby hospitals.” Caldwell earlier had erroneously said 16 people had been injured.

Honolulu Fire Chief Manuel Neves said if there had been sprinklers, the fire would not have spread past the unit where it started.

About 100 firefighters and more than 20 fire units were dispatched to the scene.

Hundreds of residents ran from the building as smoke billowed from the 568-unit building, which was built in 1971. Firefighters said there were reports of people trapped in their units in the burning building.

Officials said an unknown number of the building’s residents sheltered themselves in areas of the building that were not near flames. Those near the flames were evacuated. Videos posted to social media showed residents on balconies seeking help.

The building is home to many senior citizens and people of varying physical capabilities, officials said.

Debris could be seen falling from the building, according to ABC affiliate KITV.

Caldwell tweeted that he had traveled to the scene. “On site at the Marco Polo Building fire in Waikiki,” he wrote at 5:53 p.m. local time. “Mahalo to the Honolulu Fire Department for their heroism.”

The American Red Cross is responding to help residents with food, shelter and clothing.

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