3 people dead in Hawaii high-rise apartment fire

Investigators look for a cause while questions arise about the lack of sprinklers in the building.
4:31 | 07/15/17

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Transcript for 3 people dead in Hawaii high-rise apartment fire
the breaking news out of Hawaii this morning. A deadly fire in a high-rise building not far from waikiki beach in Honolulu. This coming weeks after that lethal inferno in London that claimed about 80 lives. Horrifying imaging such as these broadcast around the world and this morning in Hawaii, big questions about what started the fire and why there were no sprinklers in that building. There are also stories of survival that are pouring in. We'll speak with the mayor of Honolulu but start with Marci Gonzalez with the latest from our Los Angeles bureau. Marci, good morning to you. Reporter: Good morning. This morning some parts of that building are still smoldering. Firefighters putting out flames that rekindled and doing sweeps of that massive building with more than 500 apartments making sure there are no other victims. Overnight at least three people killed in this five-alarm apartment fire in Honolulu, just ten minutes from waikiki beach. The next thing we know, the smoke just billows out. Windows are being broken. Glass is flying all over. Wow, you guys this. Is crazy. Reporter: Breaking out on the 26th floor of the Marco polo building and residents watching as it engulfed their homes. Jumped to the 27th floor and 28th floor and that's when I said I'm out of here. Reporter: More than 100 firefighters on scene evacuating some residents and trucking others to shelter in place. The stairwell was so full of smoke, you couldn't breathe, you couldn't see. Even the firemen got down on his hands and knees and was huffing and puffing. Reporter: 12 people injured. 4 including one firefighter transported to nearby hospitals in serious condition. And I heard three or four women's voices screaming, constant screaming, just screaming. I mean, it was terrifying. Reporter: This fire similar to the deadly inferno that consumed Grenfell tower in London killing 80 people. I think we were all feeling nervous, worried, concerned. A little freaked out. Reporter: Investigators say this high-rise in Honolulu did not have sprinklers didn't building codes didn't require them when it was built in 1971. The fire chief saying had there been sprinklers the flames likely would have been contained to just one apartment. We reached out to the owners of the building but they are not commenting. Investigators this morning are still trying to figure out what caused the fire. Dan. So many questions, Marci, thank you. Just moments ago I spoke with the mayor of Honolulu, Kirk Caldwell. Mayor Caldwell, thank you very much for joining us this morning. Let's start with the sprinkler issue. So much concern about the lack of sprinklers in this building. Are there other large buildings in your city that also lack sprinklers and what can you do about it? Yes, Dan, there are. Any building built prior to 1971 did not have a sprinkler system. If it was a high-rise it was not mandated. Buildings since then do have sprinklers and so the debate that's been going on for awhe is whether there be a law passed mandating older buildings actually put a sprinkler system in it. I think of a fire like this it's going to add new incentive to look at going back and passing a law requires that the older buildings be retrofitted. What is the latest on the investigation into what caused this fire this morning? We have investigators in the building now on the 26th floor where the three people passed away. They're removing the bodies from that floor and bring them down to the ground level to conduct a further examination. As of this date they don't know what the cause of the fire was. They don't see any indication of foul play but they'll be looking at that also. But they have rendered three of the floors totally unoccupiable either due to fire damage, water damage or smoke damage. That leads to what I wanted to ask you about, the people who survived but now are homeless at least temporarily. How are they being taken care of? So, they are just down the street in a private school and about 50 residents are in that gym tonight. Mayor Kirk Caldwell, we really appreciate you joining us on what is a difficult day for your city and for you. Thank you very much. As he said this debate over retrofitting them with sprinklers is going to heat up. Sad that it takes a tragedy for everybody to take another look at that legislation.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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