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Fire breaks out at Kauai's Coco Palms Resort

By Star-Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 5:58 p.m. HST, Jul 4, 2014

The Kauai Fire Department is fighting a fire at the shuttered Coco Palms Resort on Kauai.

The fire broke out at the historic and iconic property about noon. At least two buildings caught fire, a Kauai County spokeswoman said. There were no injuries reported and the fire was contained by 2:15 p.m.

David Phillips, 25, who lives on the street behind the resort, said he noticed smoke from his house and rode his bike to investigate.

The smoke continued to grow and by the time Phillips arrived at the resort about a half-mile away, he said he saw "tons of flames" at the top of a building. He said the building was one of the larger structures on the resort, possibly the main building. Flames rose four to five feet above the roof, he said.

"The fire department, they came right on time," he said. "They got it down."

Phillips said the building was already heavily damaged from the hurricane and was supposed to be demolished in December.

"They just got a head start," he said.

The Coco Palms is the only Kauai hotel that did not reopen after suffering severe damage from Hurricane Iniki in 1992.

Elvis Presley filmed the wedding scene of the "Blue Hawaii" movie at the Coco Palms in 1961 and sang "The Hawaiian Wedding Song" there. The hotel was originally built in 1953 on grounds that were once the home of Deborah Kapule Kekaiha'akulou, Kauai's last reigning queen.

There have been several attempts to reopen the hotel over the years that have failed.

In May, new developers announced plans to rebuild the resort and open it as a Hyatt hotel in 2017.

The Coco Palms Hui LLC is seeking about $125 million in financing to buy the land and redevelop the hotel.

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