Cause of Wakiki high-rise fire under investigation

Published On: Aug 09 2012 08:27:43 AM HST   Updated On: Aug 07 2012 10:03:49 PM HST

The cause of a high-rise fire in Waikiki is under investigation.

The first call to dispatchers at the Honolulu Fire Department came in at 6:44 a.m. Tuesday at the Monte Vista Apartments on Liliuokalani Avenue.

Luka Zane lives on the 14th floor and was the first to witness the fire.

"All of a sudden we hear this big boom come from the sliding glass door breaking," said Zane, who called 911. "There was smoke coming up out of nowhere and you can see the fire blazing from the side of the building."

The early morning fire woke many of the residents from their sleep, forcing them to evacuate in their pajamas.

"Glass was coming down and ash was coming down. That’s when I looked up and stuff was already coming down on my lanai. That’s when I woke up the kids and we had to go," said Richard Gallegos, who lives on the 6th floor.

The fire started in apartment 901. Hoku Dusenberry-Lee said he woke to the smell of smoke.

"I opened my door and my couch and my whole living room was on fire. So I called for my roommates and I never heard them, so I ran out the door, but the door was so hot, I almost didn’t make it out of that door," said Dusenberry-Lee.

His roommates, a couple and their young son, made it out of the apartment unhurt, but the four have lost everything in the fire.  The American Red Cross was assisting them.

The 24-story complex was built in 1977 and had not been retrofitted with sprinklers.  It did have an indoor water line, which is what helped firefighters control the flames within nine minutes.

"It’s not just the unit that’s burning, but where it’s going to go from there. So we’re able to control and prevent it from doing any further damage to the units above," said HFD Capt. Terry Seelig.

A total of four residents of the building needed medical attention, mostly from smoke inhalation, but all were treated at the scene.


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