As flames raged through a Honolulu high-rise building, killing three people and injuring a dozen others, some residents didn’t even realize a blaze had broken out until they opened their doors or saw firefighters racing to battle the inferno.
Several Marco Polo high-rise residents told The Associated Press the sirens are located in the hallways and they had trouble hearing them when the blaze started. They said there were also no flashing alarm lights or public announcements about the deadly fire.
Britt Reller was in the shower when the fire started. His brother told a Honolulu newspaper he didn’t realize the building was ablaze until smoke began billowing through his apartment. He rushed out to try to save his 85-year-old mother, but he couldn’t reach her and sought refuge from the smoke and flames under a bed.
His brother, a local pastor, was on the phone with Reller at the time. He never heard from him again, and police later told him that both Reller and his mother, Melba Jeannine Dilley, were among those killed.
71-year old Joanna Kuwata, who was single and lived alone on the 26th floor of the building, was also killed in the fire. Her sister, Jayne Matsuyama, said Kuwata’s apartment was not damaged by fire, and she suspects she died of smoke inhalation.
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