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Marco Polo residents return after deadly fire; 12 units ‘heavily damaged’

  • CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARADVERTISER.COM

    Honolulu Fire Department spokesman Capt. David Jenkins said Friday afternoon’s fire at Marco Polo was declared extinguished by midnight. Firefighters remained on scene throughout the night to monitor the scene and put out any flare-ups.

Many residents of the Marco Polo high-rise returned to their units today after a deadly five-alarm fire that swept through multiple floors of the 36-story building Friday.

Residents were allowed to return to most units to check out damages today and, if the units were livable, were allowed to stay, said Leonard Rosa, who works in security at the 2333 Kapiolani Boulevard condominium building next to the Ala Wai Canal and Ala Wai Community Park. The condominium, with 586 units, was built in 1971 before the city began requiring sprinkler systems.

“Most floors are open. Only the 26th floor, the 27th floor and a few other upper floors are closed,” Rosa said. “We’ve had a lot of people come back, but I’m not sure how many. It’s been a very rough period the last 24 hours or so.”

Three people were killed and a dozen were injured in the fire that broke out Friday afternoon. Four of them, including a firefighter, were taken to a hospital in serious condition. The firefighter was treated for heat exhaustion and released, Honolulu Fire Department spokesman Capt. David Jenkins said today.

Jenkins said the fire was declared extinguished by midnight, but firefighters remained on scene throughout the night to monitor the scene and put out any flare-ups.

Fire investigators have not yet determined a cause of the blaze, nor is there an estimate of the damage, he said, adding that a dozen units were “heavily damaged.”

The American Red Cross emergency shelter at ‘Iolani School remained open today after registering 110 evacuees Friday night. In a news release, Red Cross officials said volunteers will be at the shelter from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. today and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday “to initiate casework in providing assistance with immediate emergency needs as well as referrals, guidance or additional assistance as needed to help with the recovery process.”

Dara Young, who lives on the 17th floor and missed the fire Friday due to a golf game, said she was afraid of what she might find, but returned today to find her unit intact.

“The hallways and public spaces are pretty bad. I was afraid for my unit because I saw a fireman shooting water up the building,” said Young. “Luckily, there wasn’t any water damage or any other damage to my unit. I’m so thankful. What happened was just horrible.”

Jenkins said Friday that at least 100 fire personnel and more than 30 HFD units responded to the fire. HFD responded to the initial call for a fire on the 26th floor at 2:17 p.m., but the blaze spread to the 27th and 28th floors and involved multiple units. It took more than four hours to get the fire under control.

Eastbound lanes of Kapiolani Boulevard, from McCully to Hausten streets, were reopened today at about 11 a.m. after being closed Friday afternoon as firefighters responded to the blaze.

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