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Sprinklers may have stopped Honolulu fatal fire

Tourists and other Hawaiian residents face the risk of personal injury while driving, boating or participating in other recreational activities. Fatal injuries can also take place indoors, especially when a structure is not equipped with fire safety devices.

Three people were killed in a fire on the 26th floor of the Marco Polo apartments in Honolulu near Waikiki on July 14. Four other people were taken to a hospital and were listed in serious condition. A firefighter was also treated for heat exhaustion and later released.

The Fire Chief said that sprinklers would have undoubtedly contained the fire to the unit where it originated. The 538-unit, 36 story building was finished in 1971, and fire codes do not require sprinkler systems in high-rises constructed before 1974. The building is located on Kapiolani Boulevard, and contains apartments and condominiums.

The fire broke out on the 26th floor around 2:15 p.m., and spread up to the floors directly above. Firefighters and police conducted a unit-to-unit search for residents. Chunks of the building fell off the building during the fire.

Firefighters also had to struggle to get through the flames and reach the fire's point of origin, even though they were equipped with emergency equipment. Approximately 100 firefighters fought the fire and evacuated residents from the building. The fire was under control by Saturday evening.

The fatalities were a man and two women. Fire Department officials said that they were discovered on the 26th floor in two apartments.

The 26th, 27th and 28th floors had fire damage. Displaced residents were sent to an emergency shelter.

The chief said that laws should be reviewed to require sprinkler systems in older buildings. Victims of accidents caused by a building owner's failure to install safety devices, and their families, may want to pursue compensation in a personal injury or a wrongful death lawsuit. An attorney can help ensure that evidence is obtained and that rights are protected in these legal actions.

Source: CNN, "3 dead in Honolulu high-rise fire, mayor says," Tony Marco and Joe Sutton, July 15, 2017

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