Two of the three people killed in a five-alarm blaze at a Honolulu high-rise on Friday were an airline in-flight manager who was remembered as a caring professional and his mother.
The blaze at the Marco Polo condominium building near Waikiki might have been contained had the building had a fire sprinkler system, officials said. When it was built, sprinklers were not required, officials said.
The Association of Flight Attendants said Britt Reller and his mother Melba Jeannine Dilley, as well as their family dog, lost their lives in the blaze. The association said Reller had worked in a management role with several airlines, most recently Hawaiian, and referred many flight attendants for help instead of discipline.
"Today Flight Attendants are remembering his electric personality and infectious smile," the association said in a statement. "He was consistent throughout his career of inflight management at Northwest, US Airways/American and Hawaiian. We offer our thoughts and prayers to his family and all who knew him." The union said he had a positive effect on many lives in aviation.
The third victim has not been identified by authorities. All the victims were found on the 26th floor, the floor where the fire broke out, NBC affiliate KHNL of Honolulu reported. The cause and origin of the fire is under investigation. A Honolulu fire spokesman did not immediately return an email seeking comment.
Reller had worked as an in-flight manager for Hawaiian Airlines for two years, The Associated Press reported.
Robin Sparling, vice president of in-flight services at the airline, said in an email to the AP that Reller "was a talented manager and caring co-worker and we will miss him terribly. Our hearts are with Britt's brother, Phil, and his entire family."
The fire broke out at the 36-story building at around 2:17 p.m. local time (8:17 p.m. ET) Friday and swelled to five alarms. The fire spread to the 27th and 28th floors, and some residents were told to shelter in place until emergency crews could reach them and escort them to safety, Honolulu Fire Capt. David Jenkins said.
More than 100 firefighters responded to the fire, and emergency crews guided dozens of residents down stairwells to safety, Jenkins said. Four people were transported to area hospitals in serious condition, including a firefighter, he said.
The firefighter was treated for heat exhaustion and was released, Jenkins said. Early Saturday some residents of the building, which was completed in 1971 and has 568 residential units, were allowed to return, NBC affiliate KHNL reported.