Fire alarm sounded late in Waikiki high rise fire, residents say - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Fire alarm sounded late in Waikiki high rise fire, residents say

Tom Loomis Tom Loomis
Grace Loomis Grace Loomis
Bernice Shea Bernice Shea
Capt. Terry Seelig Capt. Terry Seelig

By Tim Sakahara - bio | email

WAIKIKI (HawaiiNewsNow) - Firefighters are not only investigating what started a high rise fire at the Waikiki Skytower on Cleghorn Street, but also why the smoke alarm in the building didn't go off right away.

The call came in at about 12:30 in the afternoon but residents say the smoke alarm didn't go off for about 20 minutes later until well after firefighters had already arrived.

"It was quite intense, very quickly I might add, quite intense," said Tom Loomis.

Tom Loomis lives on the 8th floor.  He was out on his lanai when he smelled smoke from the 5th floor, which was a big concern considering he has multiple sclerosis and is in a wheelchair.

"It's very concerning especially if you're a paralyzed individual like I am," said Loomis.

"I stress over Tom because he can't walk, he can't even stand up," said Grace Loomis, Tom's wife.

And the couple says any delay could make a huge difference.

"As we were coming out of the building that's when the alarm started going off. That really pisses me off because if I wasn't home early and it got worse, he could have died," said Grace Loomis.

"As soon as the fire department was here I let them know right away (the alarm) hadn't gone off. I'm not sure why. We had a fire inspection about two weeks ago," said Bernice Shea, Resident Manager of the 30 story building.

Shea is concerned not just because the alarm was recently inspected, but also because the system often has false alarms because it's so sensitive.

"It can go off even when there's some carpentry work going and there is dust in the air so that's what makes me wonder why it didn't go off," said Shea.

"The interval does appear unusual in that the recent inspection and now a fire where it's reported not to have happened but it is too soon to say what happened and what the relationship is between the inspection and this event," said Capt. Terry Seelig, Honolulu Fire Department. "We'll look into that and make sure it's properly addressed."

Capt. Seelig also says the inspectors don't actually sound the alarm when it's checked. Instead they review the documents from the private company that is hired by the building to maintain the alarm, extinguishers and standpipe which firefighters use to pump water through the building.

The building is 30 stories and has 100 units.  No one was hurt in the incident.

HFD Fire Investigators determined the cause of the fire was either a mechanical failure or malfunction of a built in dishwasher in the apartment. Damage estimates for the building are $95,000 and $5,000 for the contents in the apartment.

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