Thursday, September 3, 2015         

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Fire scorches kitchen in Waikiki apartment

By Rob Shikina


An unattended toaster oven might have started a fire at a Waikiki high-rise yesterday.

Nozaki Kiyoshi, one of two people who live in Unit 501 at Waikiki Skytower, 2410 Cleghorn St., cooked a pizza and then left to help a friend at about noon. He returned an hour later and saw the fire engines on the roadway.

"Pizza," said Kiyoshi, whose unit was damaged. "Big mistake."

The fire was reported at 12:31 p.m. and extinguished at 1:02 p.m., said Honolulu fire Capt. Terry Seelig. It caused $100,000 damage to the apartment, and the cause is still under investigation.

Firefighters found the fire in Unit 501 and had to break in, he said. They contained the fire to the kitchen, but the two residents would likely need other accommodations because of the overall damage, he said. The Red Cross might be helping the residents, he said.

A fire investigator will try to determine the fire's cause and make a damage estimate. No one was hurt.

Resident manager Bernice Shea said the building's water was off yesterday because of routine maintenance, but that did not affect firefighters, who used outside water sources and pumped water into the building. She said the 30-story building does not have sprinklers.

Vietnam veteran Tom Loomis first noticed the fire. Sitting on his eighth-floor lanai smoking a cigarette, he saw smoke rolling out of a lanai below and told his wife, Grace.

She called firefighters, who told her to bring her husband, who uses a wheelchair, into the stairwell, but it was filled with smoke.

She knocked on neighbors' doors to warn them and complained the building's fire alarm did not go off for another 20 minutes after she called for help. False alarms have been going off at the building recently, fraying her nerves, but did not work when there was a fire, Grace Loomis said. "I'm so stressed," she said.

Firefighters escorted her, her husband and their cat down the building via an elevator.

"I'm glad that he got out safely," she said.

After resident manager Shea smelled the smoke, she went to her office to grab four keys to units of disabled tenants to give to firefighters.

She was surprised the building's fire alarm did not immediately go off, especially since the building received a fire inspection only about two weeks ago. "That's my biggest nightmare," that someone gets hurt, she said. "I just want everybody safe. The rest I can handle."

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