Fast action may have saved lives in Waikiki apartment fire

By Jill Kuramoto
Published On: Oct 25 2013 09:51:00 AM HST

Residents of a Waikiki apartment building say they never heard an alarm go off, even while flames engulfed a top floor unit. Some fast action from nearby police officers helped save lives.

HONOLULU -

Residents of a Waikiki apartment building say they never heard an alarm go off even while flames engulfed a top floor unit.

But, some fast action by a passing police officer may have helped save lives.

Click here to watch Jill Kuramoto's report.

Donna Lynch arrived at her work across from the Regency apartments on Namahana Street at 7:30 a.m. Friday and said she thinks she heard a smoke detector going off.

"I heard it and I looked around and sniffed and there was no smoke and I thought this has to be somebody’s alarm clock. But it didn't sound like it, but it didn't sound like a smoke detector either," said Lynch.

An HPD patrol officer was driving by when he saw the fire and jumped into action.

"I saw the cop screaming to get in and I ran downstairs and let him in and he set off the alarm. By that time it was a full blown fire," said Clint Burke, who lives on the second floor of the Regency.

Fire officials said the officer tried to use the house line to put out the fire, but the flames proved too much.

The first calls came in at 8:30 a.m.  Although firefighters arrived on the scene within five minutes, one of the problems they found when they arrived on scene was the fire hydrant across from the apartment building was not working.

Fire officials said that didn’t severely affect their ability to put out the fire quickly.

"We directed companies to the Ala Wai hydrants, so we were able to overcome that water supply obstacle without any impact on the fire," said Honolulu Fire Capt. Terry Seelig.

A woman and her 8-year-old grandson live in unit 803, but no one was home at the time of the fire.

Damage was contained to the unit and no one was injured.

But, fire officials said a closer look into the alarm system at the Regency apartments is planned to make sure it's working properly.  Lynch said she sees this as a wake up call.

"We’re all so desensitized against these noises. We should always pay attention. Be the one who calls, even if it's a false alarm because it could save somebody's life," said Lynch.

Fire investigators say the blaze was accidental due to an electrical malfunction in the wiring in the wall.

Damage is estimated at $140,000.

PHOTOS: Waikiki condo fire

Click here to see more pictures of the Waikiki condo fire.

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