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Three dead in Honolulu high-rise fire; unit did not have sprinklers

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Posted at 12:04 AM, Jul 15, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-15 09:27:01-04

At least three people were killed in a massive fire at a Honolulu high-rise Friday, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said.

The blaze began around 2:15 p.m. Hawaiian time (8:15 p.m. ET) on the 26th floor of the Marco Polo Apartments, a 538-unit building that houses condominiums and apartments on Kapiolani Boulevard, Caldwell said.

The victims were found on the same floor, officials said.

About 100 firefighters worked to put down the flames and evacuate the residents.

"It's very difficult, even with the equipment that we have on -- to make our way to the floor of the fire," Honolulu Fire Chief Manuel Neves said.

It's unclear what may have started the fire but authorities said the apartment where the fire originated did not have sprinklers.

"Without a doubt, if there was sprinklers in this apartment the fire would be contained to the unit of origin," Neves said.

The blaze leaped to the two floors directly above the origination point on the 26th floor, resident Joel Horiguchi told CNN.

"I looked out my window and noticed black smoke," Horiguchi said. "I then opened my window to find the fire was a unit above us, just across. I also heard a neighbor above screaming for help."

Some residents were treated for smoke inhalation and at least three people were taken to the hospital, CNN affiliate KHON reported.

Local firefighters and police were going door-to-door in search of residents. Leonard Rosa, a security officer in the building, said it will be "hours" before the fire is under control.

Daniel Hildebrandt, a tour guide who saw the fire told CNN: "It was smoke at first and it got worse and worse ... there were flames coming out of the window and people that seem to be trapped on their balcony," he said.