MAKIKI (HawaiiNewsNow) - A 49-year-old man died in a three-alarm blaze at a Makiki apartment building Wednesday after flames trapped him in his own unit.
Sources tell Hawaii News Now the man called 911 from unit 402, saying he was not able to get out.
Firefighters found his body in the back bedroom.
Friends and co-workers identified him as 49 year-old Alvin Asakura. He had worked as a waiter at HASR Bistro near Chinatown for nearly four years.
"We're all close-knit here," said HASR Bistro owner Terry Kakazu. "Everybody's devastated, you know, like, how could this happen to that person? If there's anyone else in the world, it shouldn't have been him."
Kakazu said Asakura was supposed to work Tuesday night, but had called in sick.
The fire at 1710 Makiki Street was reported at 11:20 a.m.
"Upon arrival, there was no sign of fire or smoke," said Honolulu Fire Department Capt. Scot Seguirant. "Maybe 30 seconds later, the fire moved its way to the barriers of the structure, mostly windows."
Residents say they could hear windows breaking.
As the fire continued to spread, Moriah Johnson grabbed her dog and her keys and started walking downstairs.
"As I came down, all the police officers were banging on doors getting people out it was really hectic," Johnson said, adding she had a hard time breathing because of all the smoke.
Video from the scene showed flames shooting from several units on lower floors. Once the flames were out, black soot was visible around the exteriors of several units.
Kakazu said that Asakura's best friend, who also works at the restaurant, texted her. "I can't get a hold of him all afternoon and I drove by," she recalls the message saying. "He said the coroners won't tell him anything."
The American Red Cross of Hawaii was called to assist.
Volunteer Paul Klink responded and found out it was his building.
"I go all over the island, state, the United States and all over the world, to have this happen in the building where my family and I live ... it was absolutely terrifying to get the call," he said.
Units 402 and 502 sustained significant fire damage, officials said, while two other units, 401 and 403, had water damage.
Fire investigators are still on the scene trying to determine the cause.