Wednesday, January 24, 2001
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Posted on: Wednesday, January 24, 2001

Minor fire forces hotel evacuation

By Curtis Lum
Advertiser Staff Writer

Guests at the Ala Moana Hotel got a scare last night when smoke began billowing out from the top floor of the high-rise building.

But the fire was confined to a 37th-floor mechanical room and did only minor damage, said fire department spokes-man Capt. Richard Soo.

The fire was reported at 8:43 p.m. and brought under control at 9:07.

Although the fire was minor, it was intense enough to activate two sprinkler heads on the 37th floor. Soo said that helped keep the fire from spreading.

"That’s what really mitigated the potential loss to that building. It was limited only to water damage, not actual fire loss," he said.

The hotel management evacuated the 34th and 35th floors, and Aaron’s restaurant on the 36th.

Dozens of guests waited in the lobby until the all-clear signal at 9:35.

An elderly Japanese visitor complained of heart palpitations and difficulty breathing after she walked down a fire escape stairwell to the lobby. She was taken to Straub Clinic and Hospital for treatment.

Bartender Bobby "Mr. Magic" Acoba, who had been mixing drinks, said the alarm went off soon after he saw smoke outside, and the restaurant manager told everyone to leave.

About a dozen people were at the bar, and the restaurant "had quite a bit of customers," Acoba said.

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