After massive highrise fire, displaced tenants face uncertain future

(Image: Britt Reller/Facebook)
(Image: Britt Reller/Facebook)
Lei covers Britt Reller's desk at the Hawaiian Airlines in-flight division. (Image: Facebook/Remembering Britt Reller)
Lei covers Britt Reller's desk at the Hawaiian Airlines in-flight division. (Image: Facebook/Remembering Britt Reller)
(Image: Facebook/Remembering Britt Reller)
(Image: Facebook/Remembering Britt Reller)

MOILIILI, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Scores of residents displaced by a massive blaze at the Marco Polo condo got a first glimpse at the damage to their homes Saturday, while others who couldn't return struggled to figure out their next steps.

Also Saturday, friends and family remembered the three who were killed in the five-alarm blaze.

At Hawaiian Airlines, employees left dozens of lei on the desk of Britt Reller, who died in his 26th-floor unit along with his mother and their dog.

The 54-year-old called his brother while the fire was raging and told him they were trapped, the Star-Advertiser reported.

Hawaiian Airlines confirmed Saturday that Reller, 54, was an in-flight manager. He lived with his mother, 85-year-old Melba Dilley.

The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA issued this statement on Reller:

"Today, flight attendants are remembering Reller's electric personality and infectious smile. He was consistent throughout his career of in-flight management at Northwest, US Airways/American and Hawaiian. We offer our thoughts and prayers to his family and all who knew him. He had a huge positive affect on many lives throughout aviation."

The third victim in Friday's fire was 71-year-old Joann Kuwata, sources said. She also lived on the 26th floor.

At least 12 people were also injured in the blaze, including a firefighter who was treated for heat exhaustion.

The blaze left a dozen units badly damaged, and a number of others sustained smoke and water damage.

The CEO of American Red Cross of Hawaii said more than 100 displaced residents sought emergency shelter at Iolani School on Friday night.

"We helped a lot of people with medications last night," said Carolie Matayoshi. "We had three nurses on hand able to refill prescriptions and bring it."

Some residents were able to return to their units early Saturday morning.

If they were livable, they were allowed to stay. However, the 26th through 28th floors remain closed due to extensive damage.

Unchalee Novey was able to gather some belongings from her 29th floor unit before she was forced to leave.

Her unit has major smoke and water damage.

"It's the saddest feeling, seeing the place you love like this and the most expensive investment you've made," Novey said.

Novey and her family will be staying at a hotel on Saturday night.

Other families are still uncertain where they will end up.

"Right now, we're completely homeless, me, my husband and mom," said Moon Yun Pellerin, who lives on the 27th floor.

Pellerin's 78-year-old mother, who suffers from dementia, was home alone when the fire broke out one floor beneath her.

"She made it down here by herself barefoot from the 27th floor," said Pellerin.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

The American Red Cross said the shelter at Iolani School will remain open Saturday night.

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