The flames ripped through an apartment on the 21st floor of Rainbow Place Condominiums at 2754 Kuilei Street in Moiliili.
The blaze was uncontained when the fire department first arrived because the high rise was not equipped with fire sprinklers.
“Living here I’ve been, here almost 10 years now, there are no sprinkler systems in the building,” Georja Skinner said.
Cullen Arroyo and his wife got out of their apartment as quickly as they could when they heard the alarm. He said watching their apartment building on fire brought back memories of another blaze.
“Just thinking back to Marco Polo not too long ago, it’s pretty scary,” Arroyo said.
Four people died in in the Marco Polo building fire in July 2017. Thankfully no one was trapped by Saturday’s blaze. But the Honolulu Fire Department said at least six apartments were damaged.
KHON: “Had there been a sprinkler in this building, how could this have been different?.”
“Having a fire sprinkler probably would have contained a fire a lot sooner to minimize damage to the unit and to the other units.” Honolulu Fire Dept. Battalion Chief Alan Carvalho said.
Carvalho explained that one of the biggest challenges with high rise fires is getting water on them. Having a working sprinkler system does that, and helps control the fire from the start.
Honolulu City Council passed a bill on Wednesday that would allow condominiums built before 1979, and taller than 10 stories, to avoid having to put in sprinklers. But residents who escaped the Rainbow Place fire feel differently.
“It’s going to be expensive, its going to be humbug but to save lives it’s going to be worth it eventually,” Arroyo said.
“It could mean someone’s life and none of us want to see that,” Skinner said.
Carvalho said HFD is aware of the bill city council passed and other bills being looked at by legislators. He said that HFD always advocates for fire sprinklers and fire alarms for all residential apartments and single family homes.