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4 people displaced, apartment destroyed in Waikiki high-rise fire

By Gregg K. Kakesako

LAST UPDATED: 3:54 p.m. HST, Aug 7, 2012

Four people were left homeless today following a morning high-rise fire that destroyed their Waikiki apartment.

Hoku Dusenberry-Lee said he awoke to the smell of smoke in his ninth-floor apartment at 320 Liliuokalani Ave. just before 6:30 a.m.

“The door was so hot that it was hard to open,” said Dusenberry-Lee, who has lived in the apartment at the Monte Vista building for seven months.

“My whole living room was on fire,” said the former Kauai resident.

The other bedroom in the two-bedroom unit was occupied by a couple and their infant son.

All four as well as other residents in the 90-unit, 23-story building evacuated. 

The blaze was called into the Honolulu Fire Department at 6:44 a.m. and extinguished by 7 a.m., according to fire Capt. Terry Seelig.

Seelig said the couple as well two other people were treated for smoke inhalation.

The fire caused an estimated $120,000 in damage to the building and $15,000 in loss of the apartment’s contents, Seelig said. Officials will resume their investigation into the cause of the fire Wednesday, he said.

He said the building was built in 1977 and was not required to have an internal automatic sprinkler system. Firefighters were able to control the blaze within nine minutes using an internal hose on the ninth floor, Seelig said.

Police shut down Liliuokalani Avenue for about an hour, until just after 8 a.m.

Dusenberry-Lee said he does not know how the fire started, adding that it destroyed everything he owned.

“I was supposed to work this morning but I don’t have anything to wear,” said Dusenberry-Lee, who is a barber. He escaped the blaze wearing only shorts.

American Red Cross officials responded to assist the displaced occupants.

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Waikiki apartment fire displaces 4 residents

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