A 54-year-old man who died in the Hawaii high-rise blaze made a final call to his brother let him know he could not escape the fire with his 85-year-old mom, who also died, reports said.
Britt Reller called his brother, Phil Reller, and told him he’d been taking a shower when he smelled the smoke on Friday. Reller told the Star Advertiser that his brother immediately rushed out of the bathroom in his 26th floor apartment, but could not get to their elderly mother Melba Jeannine Dilley.
Reller told the paper that his brother also told him during the call that smoke was filling his room and he was under his bed. Reller said he did not hear from his brother again.
Reller and Dilley were among at least three who were killed in the massive fire that broke out Friday afternoon in the 36-story Marco Polo Apartments in Honolulu.
Reller, who worked as Hawaiian Airlines in-flight manager, was remembered by his staff as “talented manager and caring co-worker.”
“We will miss him terribly. Our hearts are with Britt's brother, Phil, and his entire family,” Robin Sparling, vice president of in-flight services at the airline, said in a statement.
The other victim, a woman who has not been identified, was also found in another 26th floor in the building. The fire was reported to have started on their floor.
Five people, including a firefighter who was treated for heat exhaustion, were taken to the hospital in serious condition, according to Honolulu fire Capt. David Jenkins said.
One hundred firefighters worked to put out the blaze, which started just after 2 p.m., and it was declared under control just before 7 p.m.
Authorities said it is not yet clear what sparked the fire, but said the building did not have sprinklers.
"Without a doubt, if there was sprinklers in this apartment, the fire would be contained to the unit of origin," Fire Chief Manuel Neves said.
Fire codes don't require sprinkler systems in high-rises built before 1974, KHON reported. This building was finished in 1971.