Marco Polo condo fire

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Marco Polo condo fire
Skyline of Honolulu seen from the University of Hawaii at Manoa with the Marco Polo in the middle scarred by the fire.
DateJuly 14, 2017 (2017-07-14)
Time2:17pm HST
LocationHonolulu, Hawaii
Coordinates21°17′14.99″N 157°49′42.53″W / 21.2874972°N 157.8284806°W / 21.2874972; -157.8284806Coordinates: 21°17′14.99″N 157°49′42.53″W / 21.2874972°N 157.8284806°W / 21.2874972; -157.8284806
TypeStructure fire
Non-fatal injuries13
Property damageOver $100 million[4]

The Marco Polo condo fire was a high-rise fire that occurred at 2:17pm on July 14, 2017 in the 36-story Marco Polo condominum building at 2333 Kapiolani Boulevard in the McCully-Mōʻiliʻili neighborhood of Honolulu, Hawaii.[5] 4 people were killed, and 13 others (including 1 firefighter) were injured.[3][6] Over 200 units were damaged or destroyed[a] giving the destruction of the building at more than $100 million.[4] Additionally, concern about the abatement of asbestos, which was built into the Marco Polo structure, is under investigation by the state of Hawai'i's Department of Health and Department of Labor’s workplace safety division.[7][8][9][10][11]

Building history[edit]

The Marco Polo was completed in 1971.[5] A previous fire in 2013 caused $1.1 million in property damage to two apartments, but no injuries were reported.[6][12]


Victims killed[13]
Jean Dilley, 87
Joann M. Kuwata, 71
Britt Reller, 54
Marilyn Van Gieson, 81

A fire was initially reported at 2:17pm on the 26th floor of the building,[6] and spread across a dozen apartments on the 26th, 27th, and 28th floors. The bodies of three victims were found on the 26th floor. A fourth victim, who lived 6 floors above the origin of the blaze, had been hospitalized due to smoke inhalation, but died 20 days later on August 3rd.[3] The 7-alarm fire required over 120 firefighters and 15 fire engines from the Honolulu Fire Department (HFD) to respond.[9][14][15][16] Firefighters monitored the fire overnight.[5] A shelter for displaced residents was established at ʻIolani School.[6]

An investigation by HFD was unable to conclusively identify the cause of the fire.[1]


More than 200 of the 568 units were damaged.[4][5][16] No sprinkler system was installed in the Marco Polo building complex which was built in 1971 and four years before sprinklers became mandatory for new construction in Honolulu.[5][17][18] In fact, after a 2013 fire, the Marco Polo building’s association obtained an estimate of $8,000 per condo for installation of sprinklers.[17] This would have cost $4.5 million for the entire complex, but the sprinkler system was never installed.[17] More than 300 high-rises across Oahu are not required to have sprinklers.[17][b] However, local and Hawai'i lawmakers were considering making sprinklers mandatory on these older complexes.[17] Both Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell and Hawai'i state senator Glenn Wakai voiced support for sprinkler installation in older high-rises.[17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ More than 80 units were damaged, 30 were destroyed, and over 130 sustained water damage.[4]
  2. ^ A high-rise is defined as a structure at least 35 metres (115 ft) or 12 stories tall and less than 100 metres (330 ft) or 40 stories tall.[19] As of 2017, Honolulu is ranked 66th in the world with 457 high-rises.[20]


  1. ^ a b Yerton, Stewart (October 16, 2017). "What Started The Marco Polo Fire Remains A Mystery". Honolulu Civil Beat. Retrieved October 19, 2017.
  2. ^ Schaefers, Alison (July 28, 2017). "Hundreds gather to mourn Marco Polo fire victim". Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Retrieved July 31, 2017.
  3. ^ a b c Fujimori, Leila (August 19, 2017). "Woman who waited 4 hours for rescue from condo fire dies". Star-Advertiser. Honolulu. Associated Press. Retrieved August 19, 2017.
  4. ^ a b c d Star-Advertiser staff (August 1, 2017). "Marco Polo fire caused more than $100 million in damage". Star-Advertiser. Honolulu. Retrieved August 19, 2017.
  5. ^ a b c d e HNN staff (July 14, 2017). "3 dead, 4 seriously injured in 5-alarm blaze at Honolulu highrise". Hawaii News Now. Honolulu. Retrieved July 15, 2017.
  6. ^ a b c d Kubota, Gary (July 14, 2017). "3 killed in 5-alarm blaze at Kapiolani Boulevard high rise". Star-Advertiser. Honolulu. Retrieved July 15, 2017.
  7. ^ Mangieri, Gina (July 25, 2017). "State takes oversight, investigative actions on asbestos in Marco Polo building". KHON2. Honolulu. Retrieved August 19, 2017.
  8. ^ Morales, Manolo (July 25, 2017). "Doctor explains dangers of asbestos as Marco Polo residents raise safety concerns". KHON. Honolulu. Retrieved August 19, 2017.
  9. ^ a b Davis, Chelsea (August 10, 2017). "Firefighters union raises asbestos concerns from 7-alarm highrise blaze". Hawaii News Now. Honolulu. Retrieved August 19, 2017.
  10. ^ Fujimori, Leila (August 11, 2017). "Asbestos confirmed in Marco Polo condo at time of fire". Star-Advertiser. Honolulu. Retrieved August 19, 2017.
  11. ^ Consillio, Kristen (September 30, 2017). "Fire department fined over Marco Polo blaze". Star-Advertiser. Retrieved September 30, 2017.
  12. ^ Hofschneider, Anita (July 14, 2017). "Caldwell Supports Adding Sprinklers To Older High-Rises In Wake Of Fire". Honolulu Civil Beat. Retrieved July 14, 2017.
  13. ^ Schaefers, Allison (December 9, 2017). "911 calls paint chilling portrait of plight in Marco Polo inferno". Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Retrieved December 9, 2017.
  14. ^ KHON2 Web staff (July 14, 2017). "3 dead as 5-alarm fire in Marco Polo building declared under control". KHON2. Honolulu. Retrieved July 15, 2017.
  15. ^ "Union: Firefighters Lacked Some Resources on High-Rise Fire". US News. Associated Press. July 26, 2017. Retrieved August 19, 2017.
  16. ^ a b Star-Advertiser staff (July 27, 2017). "Fire department says Marco Polo blaze was 7-alarm fire". Star-Advertiser. Honolulu. Retrieved July 28, 2017.
  17. ^ a b c d e f Kelleher, Jennifer Sinco; Matthews, Karen; Har, Janie; Babwin, Don (July 23, 2017). "Some urge sprinkler mandates across U.S. after Marco Polo fire". Star-Advertiser. Honolulu. Associated Press. Retrieved July 26, 2017.
  18. ^ Gomes, Andrew (July 15, 2017). "Fire sprinkler cost was deemed prohibitive". Star-Advertiser. Honolulu. Retrieved July 31, 2017.
  19. ^ "High-rise building definition (ESN 18727 )". Emporis. Hamburg, Germany. Retrieved July 26, 2017.
  20. ^ "Skyline ranking". Emporis. Hamburg, Germany. Retrieved July 26, 2017.