Investigation into fatal Marco Polo fire expands to include other agencies

Investigation into deadly Marco Polo fire continues to expand
Published: Jul. 18, 2017 at 10:21 PM HST|Updated: Jul. 19, 2017 at 5:16 AM HST
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Kaimi serves as an investigative canine, now helping with the fire. (Image: Hawaii News Now)
Kaimi serves as an investigative canine, now helping with the fire. (Image: Hawaii News Now)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - It's been four days since a fierce five-alarm fire destroyed hundreds of units in a Moiliili highrise apartment building.

The blaze at Marco Polo on Kapiolani Boulevard killed three people, injured a dozen more, and left countless people without any place to call home.

Fire investigators say they're still trying to figure out what caused it, but officials estimate nearly 200 units sustained some kind of damage because of the fire.

Now, a new investigator is on the case.

"(The) Hawaii Island Fire Department has graciously loaned us their investigation team which includes canine .. (which) will be looking for ignitable liquids," said HFD Capt. David Jenkins.

The dog, Kaimi, is the only fire investigating canine in the entire state. He can detect up to 60 types of ignitable liquids, like gasoline or diesel, and his handler says he has has worked more than 200 cases in his career – with a 100 percent success rate.

"Our senses are parts per million, whatever it may be," said Fire Investigator Robert Perreira. "These guys are parts per quintrillion. Can't even fathom that number, but that's how good they are."

Jenkins says that having an arson canine unit and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives investigators on scene doesn't mean there is now a criminal case. He says the department is simply utilizing every resource that is available to them.

Meanwhile, tables and chairs full of contributions have piled up in the Marco Polo lobby. Food, clothing, even money have been donated to those who have nothing left.

The building's property management company is also trying to help.

"In this disaster, we are actually offering grants such as housing assistance and so on and so forth. We have actually set aside about $50,000 for that," said Associa Hawaii Communications Director Selkie Khoo.

An emergency executive session for board members will be held Tuesday night to better map out the next steps for recovery and rebuilding efforts. Associa Hawaii says they will schedule a meeting with residents at a later time.

A celebration of life for one of the victims, Britt Reller, will be held July 28 at Central Union Church of Honolulu. Visitation will be at 10 a.m., with the service to follow.

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