Fire victim made heartbreaking - Britt Reller, 54, was with his 85-year-old mother on the 26th floor of his apartment in Honolulu, Hawaii

16 Jul 2017, 13:15 ( 4 Months ago)

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Britt Reller, 54, (pictured left with his mother) alerted Pastor Phil Reller (pictured with Britt in inset

A Hawaiian Airlines in-flight manager called his brother as smoke filled his 26th-floor apartment in Honolulu before he and his mother lost their lives in the blaze, the man's brother said.Britt Reller, 54, alerted Pastor Phil Reller that he had been taking a shower when he smelled the smoke.He rushed out but was unable to get to their 85-year-old mother, Melba Jeannine Dilley. Britt - who had worked as an in-flight manager for Hawaiian Airlines for two years - had crawled under a bed and wasn't heard from again, his brother told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.  In an emailed statement to The Associated Press on Saturday, Robin Sparling, vice president of in-flight services at the airline, said 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.' 

Police confirmed that two of the three victims killed in the blaze Friday are his mother and brother, he told the newspaper. The fire broke out in a unit on Friday on the 26th floor, where all three of the dead were found, Fire Chief Manuel Neves said. Police are yet to confirm the name of the third victim. The building known as the Marco Polo residences is not required to have fire sprinklers, which would have confined the blaze to the unit where it started, Neves said. The 36-floor building near the tourist mecca of Waikiki was built in 1971, before sprinklers were mandatory in high-rises. It has over 500 units.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said the city needs to look at passing a law requiring older buildings be retrofitted with sprinklers. One photo shows the burnt entranceway to an apartment where a three-tiered table stands among the ashes and charred debris. Support beams can be seen sticking out through sunken, burnt-out walls in the entranceway. What appears to be a fire hose is shown on the floor in a large puddle of water. Another photo from a nearby apartment shows a sooty door with a large hole above the doorknob. The building is vast and wave-shaped, and it has several sections. The blaze was mostly confined to a single section. Only the units immediately above it and to the side of it were evacuated, while many residents stayed inside. Gordon Kihune lives on the 13th floor of the Marco Polo apartments and has lived in the building for about 12 years. He says he hasn't seen any fire extinguishers or hoses in the building that he can remember, and didn't hear the alarms going off when the fire broke out. No one from the building said they remembered recent fire drills. But Anna Vigevano, who lives on the 6th floor, said there were some after a 2013 fire that broke out two floors above her. Since then, she doesn't hesitate to evacuate when she hears the alarm, Viggiano said. Douglas Hesley, branch president of Associa Hawaii, the management group that runs the Marco Polo building, said in a brief statement Saturday that there will be an emergency board meeting to discuss recovery efforts. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Marco Polo community,' he said.Hesley said he could not comment on past fire drills or safety plans that were in place at the time of the fire.