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A police officer directs a fire truck

A police officer directs a fire truck at the Marco Polo apartment building after a fire broke out in it in Honolulu, Hawaii, July 14, 2017. (Photo: Hugh Gentry/Reuters)

Probe into fatal Honolulu apartment tower fire

Honolulu fire officials on Saturday were hoping to determine the cause of a blaze that tore through three upper floors of a 36-story residential tower in Hawaii’s capital, killing at least three people.

The blaze on Friday, which took firefighters about four hours to extinguish, caused debris to rain down from the Marco Polo tower overlooking a beachfront tourist district, forcing the closure of a major road and sending thick, black smoke billowing over the city.

It also highlighted the absence of sprinkler systems in some older buildings, which became mandatory in Honolulu high-rises in 1974. The Marco Polo opened three years earlier.

“Without a doubt if there was sprinklers in this apartment, the fire would be contained to the unit of origin,” Honolulu Fire Chief Manuel Neves told reporters, adding that it took more than 100 firefighters to control the blaze.

The blaze erupted a month to the day after the tragedy at Grenfell Tower, the London high-rise where at least 80 people died in a fire in an older building also unequipped with sprinklers. (Reuters)

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