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Restaurant kitchen fire forces evacuation of Outrigger Reef

By Star-Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 10:09 a.m. HST, Mar 14, 2012

Fire investigators are trying to determine the cause of a kitchen fire at the Outrigger Reef Hotel in Waikiki that led to the evacuation of several hundred guests Tuesday night.

The fire broke out in the Ocean House Restaurant in the Ocean Tower of the hotel at about 9:51 p.m. Firefighters brought the fire under control about an hour later.

Fire Capt. Terry Seelig said flames entered the kitchen vent duct and ignited grease in the duct, which runs up the to the roof of the 10-story hotel.

Smoke and flaming embers could be seen coming out of the roof vent, Seelig and witnesses said.

Hotel staff evacuated several hundred guests in the Ocean Tower. Some people staying in the other towers also evacuated their rooms. Guests began returning to their rooms after the fire was brought under control, said Nancy Daniels, a spokeswoman for the Outrigger Enterprise Group.

There are 639 rooms in the hotel.

Seelig said firefighters shot water up the vent to extinguish the flames rather than shooting water down from the roof, which might have created more water damage to the hotel.

After the flames were extinguished, firefighters and hotel maintenence personnel discovered leaks in water pipes next to the duct. Seelig said it appeared the heat from the fire caused the pipes to expand and leak.

Firefighters remained on scene until about 1 a.m. to help staff remove the water from the property.

Police closed Kalia Road, Lewers Street and Don Ho Street near the hotel while firefighters battled the blaze.

The fire began as the Ocean House Restaurant was finishing dinner service.

The restaurant was closed for breakfast this morning, Daniels said. Hotel officials hope to open the restaurant for dinner, but that will depend on the extent of damage and the status of repairs, she said.

"We appreciate the Honolulu Fire Department," Daniels said. "Security and hotel personnel worked hard to make sure everyone was taken care of. We're happy that there were no injuries and folks can get back to their Hawaii vacation this morning."

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