POSTED: 1:07 p.m. HST, May 19, 2011
LAST UPDATED: 5:07 p.m. HST, May 19, 2011
An unattended toaster oven may have started a fire at a Waikiki high-rise today.
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 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.
Firefighters found the fire in a fifth floor unit and had to break in, he said. They contained the fire to the kitchen area, but the two residents would likely need other accommodations because of the overall damage, he said. Red Cross may 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 today because of routine maintenance, but that didn't affect firefighters who used outside water sources and pumped water into the building. She said the 30-story building doesn't 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 didn't 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 didn't 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 through 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 didn't 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."