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Monday, April 21, 2014         

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Fire guts Ala Wai apartment

A blaze leaves a unit's occupants homeless but causes no injuries

By Gordon Y.K. Pang

POSTED:


Fire investigators are trying to determine the cause of a three-alarm fire at a Waikiki high-rise condominium that left a young couple homeless yesterday.

It was urban Honolulu's third dwelling fire in five days, although all three are vastly different in origin and circumstance.

No one was injured yesterday.

The fire appears to have begun inside Unit 810 of the 33-story Aloha Lani condominium complex at 2211 Ala Wai Blvd., said Capt. Terry Seelig, Honolulu Fire Department spokesman.

The one-bedroom unit was gutted. One next-door unit had heat and water damage, there was water damage to the unit directly below and the two units directly above sustained smoke damage, he said. Total damage was put at $225,000.

About 60 firefighters across 11 companies were at the scene. The fire was under control by 11:25 a.m. and extinguished 20 minutes later.

Because it was built in 1976, the condominium was not required to have smoke detector alarms, as are all new buildings today, Seelig said.

The building has 359 units, and dozens of residents milled around the ground-level driveway waiting to get back into their apartments.

Resident manager Jacob Roller said he called 911 and turned on the fire alarm after being alerted by a neighbor of smoke coming from the unit. He and security guards then grabbed fire extinguishers and went up to try to put out the fire. "The smoke was too much so we stayed outside," Roller said.

The couple who lived in the unit declined to talk to media, although they said they had lived there about two years.

Alissa Sillars, who lives in the ninth-floor space above the one that caught fire, was relieved to hear her unit was mostly spared.

Neither Sillars, 22, nor her roommate, April Freeze, 32, was home when the fire began. But both worked nearby and rushed home after being alerted.

Looking up from across the Ala Wai at the flames shooting up from the fire when she arrived, Sillars said she could not figure out where her unit was.

"We're thankful we weren't home and nobody got hurt," Sillars said.

A blaze in Palama on Saturday destroyed one apartment complex and damaged another, leaving about 25 people homeless. A fire in a rooming house Wednesday killed one elderly tenant, injured two others and left 22 people without a home.

The Palama fire was started by a malfunctioning gas heater. Fire inspectors ruled the Liliha blaze was deliberately set and have turned the case over to police.






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