Honolulu mayor pushes sprinkler bill in wake of deadly fire

Published: Monday, July 17, 2017 @ 5:35 PM
Updated: Monday, July 17, 2017 @ 5:36 PM

Hundreds of older high-rise apartment buildings in Honolulu aren't required to have sprinkler systems, but city officials are pushing for change in the wake of last week's deadly 26th-floor blaze.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell introduced a bill Monday that would require sprinklers in all high-rise buildings regardless of when they were constructed.

There are about 300 high-rises on Oahu that were built before a 1975 law made sprinkler systems mandatory in new structures, according to a survey conducted by the Honolulu Fire Department. The Marco Polo building that caught fire Friday was built in 1971.

"We know the Marco Polo fire would likely not have spread if the building had sprinklers," Caldwell said in a statement. "We also know that many Oahu families struggle to pay for affordable housing, and we are working with the City Council to find ways to help homeowners pay for this lifesaving upgrade."

Caldwell's bill would require all buildings taller than 75 feet to install sprinkler systems.

All high-rise hotels in Honolulu were required to install fire sprinkler systems in 1983, and the requirement was extended to commercial high-rise buildings in 2001. But efforts to require the systems on high-rise residential buildings on the city and state level have failed in the past because of cost concerns.

"At the end of the day, this really is about protecting the very young and very old, those who really may not be able to escape a fire quickly enough," Caldwell said.

Fire investigators said Monday the apartment where a deadly fire began in a Honolulu high-rise was near the two units on the 26th floor where the bodies of three victims were found, but they're still working to determine the cause.

The origin of the fire is unit 2602, Honolulu Fire Department Capt. David Jenkins said. Two women and a man died in two different apartments on the same floor of the 36-story high-rise.

Investigators will determine exactly where in the unit Friday's fire started and what caused it, Jenkins said.

The Marco Polo building was constructed in 1971, before fire sprinklers were required in high-rises. Fire officials say sprinklers would have prevented flames from spreading.

It's one of the worst fires in modern Honolulu history, Jenkins said.

A sprinkler system would have confined the blaze to the unit where it started, Honolulu Fire Chief Manuel Neves said.

Douglas Hesley, branch president of Associa Hawaii, the management group that runs the Marco Polo building, declined to comment on past fire drills or safety plans that were in place at the time of the fire.

When asked if an Associated Press reporter could enter the building Saturday afternoon to see the fire damage, Hesley declined and said he was uncertain of the structural integrity of the fire-damaged floors. He said the area was under the control of city police and fire officials. However, the fire department said Monday the scene was released to the building around 1 a.m. Saturday. The police department said it does not consider the burnt floors a crime scene.

Residents were being allowed back in to the high-rise, and at least one ventured into the fire-damaged area without being stopped. A KITV reporter also entered the burned section of the building Saturday morning. One photo from KITV shows an entrance door to the 26th floor being held open with yellow caution tape, but nothing preventing people from entering.

Calls Monday to Hesley were not returned.

The Honolulu Fire Department said fire inspection reports are part of their investigation and cannot be immediately released.

In the U.S., between the 1970s and mid-1980s, there were mandates for sprinklers in new construction. But getting sprinklers retrofitted in existing buildings was a taller hurdle, said Robert Solomon, a fire protection engineer with the National Fire Protection Association.

"This fire will bring a window of opportunity for everybody to come together on that," Solomon said.

Sprinklers in high-rise buildings became part of the building code in 1981, after deadly fires in Las Vegas, said Rob Neale, vice president for national fire service activities at the International Code Council. A number of communities adopted retroactive sprinkler requirements and developed timelines, typically allowing six to eight years for buildings to be retrofitted, he said.

Los Angeles, Houston, San Antonio, San Diego, Chicago and Philadelphia all require sprinklers in existing high-rises regardless of when the buildings were constructed, Neale said.

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Associated Press writer Marco Garcia in Honolulu and Michael Balsamo in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

Grandson surprises grandfather with restored 1957 Chevy

Published: Wednesday, January 17, 2018 @ 2:06 PM

Man Surprises Grandfather With Restored Chevy Classic

Fred Lamar’s 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air sat in a garage, just as he left it, for 30 years.

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Until about a year ago, when his grandson, Cameron Dedman, started restoring the iconic Motor City machine.

On Saturday, Lamar, 81, nearly passed out when the car was revealed to him.

“I have been doing a full frame off restoration of this car a big surprise for my grandpa,” Dedman wrote in a post with the photos of the restored Bel Air. “He’s my best friend and truly deserves it.”

Lamar has owned the vehicle since the 1950s. The pair plan to take it to car shows this spring and summer, according to WHAS.

Dog found covered in icicles, sores, needs forever home

Published: Wednesday, January 17, 2018 @ 10:18 PM

Dog Found Freezing and Terrified Looking For Forever Home

A firefighter was driving home from work when he saw a dog in the middle of the road. While many drivers honked their horns and continued past the dog, the firefighter, Justin Luttrell, stopped. 

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“She was freezing, shaking and terrified -- it was written all over her face with her tail tucked between her legs,” Lutrell said in a Facebook post Wednesday. “Before I left work I checked the weather. It was -1 with wind chill. I pulled over to try and pick her up.”

Lutrell said the dog was nearly hit by cars. He used cooked chicken and lunch meat to get her close and he finally caught up to the dog a fourth of a mile down the road.

“She had icicles hanging off of her with multiple sores on her body and looked anorexic,” Lutrell said in the post. “Not knowing if she’d bite me or if she had rabies, etc., I picked her up and put her in the back seat of my truck.”

Lutrell said he drove to an Animal Emergency Center in Memphis, where he was told the dog was heartworm negative, didn’t appear spayed and did not have a microchip.

Lutrell made the public post in hopes of getting the dog adopted.

“She is extremely sweet and will be needing a home,” he wrote. “Please share this to find this sweetheart a good loving home and keep her off the streets.”

Wells Fargo customers find accounts drained by mistaken double charges

Published: Wednesday, January 17, 2018 @ 11:49 PM
Updated: Thursday, January 18, 2018 @ 7:52 AM

VIDEO: Wells Fargo Customers Find Accounts Drained By Mistaken Double Charges

Some Wells Fargo customers found their bank accounts drained to zero Wednesday when some sort of glitch caused their online bill payments to be processed twice.

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Numerous customers -- so many that Wells Fargo’s customer service phone lines were jammed Wednesday night -- were discovering that recent payments they had made using the bank’s online Bill Pay system had been deducted twice from their checking accounts.

In some cases, that sent customers’ balances to zero -- or below zero -- and triggered the possibility of overdraft protection fees. Some customers received email notices telling them that they now had no money in their checking accounts.

Customers who waited out the hour-plus wait to reach a customer service representative Wednesday night were being told that their accounts would be fixed overnight. By Thursday morning, some customers did report seeing their accounts restored to normal.

“We are aware of the online Bill Pay situation which was caused by an internal processing error,” Wells Fargo communications manager Hilary O’Byrne said in a statement late Wednesday. “We are currently working to correct it, and there is no action required for impacted customers at this time. Any fees or charges that may have been incurred as a result of this error will be taken care of. We apologize for any inconvenience.”

O’Byrne declined to say how many customers were affected or to describe how the double charges occurred.

In the meantime, customers took to social media to share their shock and frustration over not being able to access the money that should have been in their checking accounts.

Former U.S. Navy officers face negligent homicide charges in collisions

Published: Thursday, January 18, 2018 @ 7:30 AM

USS John S. McCain: Remains Of All 10 Missing Sailors Found

The U.S. Navy has announced that five officers, including two commanders, will face negligent homicide charges connected to separate incidents involving the USS Fitzgerald and the USS John S. McCain that cost 17 sailors their lives.

>> Watch the news report here

A Navy spokesman, Capt. Greg Hicks, said the charges, which also include dereliction of duty and endangering a ship, will be presented to what the military calls an Article 32 hearing to determine whether the accused are taken to trial in a court-martial.

The disciplinary actions were decided by Adm. Frank Caldwell and are the latest in a series of moves the Navy has made in the aftermath of the deadly collisions, which investigators concluded were avoidable. It fired several top leaders, including the commander of the 7th Fleet, Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin, and several other senior commanders in the Pacific.

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The Navy said it is filing at least three charges against four officers of the Fitzgerald, including the commanding officer, who was Cmdr. Bryce Benson at the time. Benson suffered a head injury in the collision and was airlifted to the U.S. Naval Hospital at Yokosuka, Japan. A Navy investigation found that Benson left the ship’s bridge before the collision. Also facing charges are two lieutenants and one lieutenant junior grade, whose names were not disclosed. The Navy said all four face criminal charges, including negligent homicide, dereliction of duty and endangering a ship.

Fewer officers from the McCain are being charged. The Navy said the ship’s commander at the time, Cmdr. Alfredo J. Sanchez, is being charged with negligent homicide, dereliction of duty and endangering a ship. A chief petty officer, whose name was not disclosed, faces a charge of dereliction of duty.

In a statement, Hicks said the announcement of charges Tuesday is “not intended to and does not reflect a determination of guilt or innocence related to any offenses. All individuals alleged to have committed misconduct are entitled to a presumption of innocence.”

In June, the 7th Fleet notified families of the seven sailors who drowned after a 29,060-ton container ship called the ACX Crystal collided with the USS Fitzgerald.

The Navy identified the deceased then as Gunner’s Mate Seaman Dakota Kyle Rigsby, 19, of Palmyra, Va.; Yeoman 3rd Class Shingo Alexander Douglass, 25, of San Diego, Calif.; Sonar Technician 3rd Class Ngoc T. Truong Huynh, 25, of Oakville, Conn.; Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class Noe Hernandez, 26, of Weslaco, Texas; Fire Controlman 2nd Class Carlosvictor Ganzon Sibayan, 23, of Chula Vista, Calif.; Personnel Specialist 1st Class Xavier Alec Martin, 24, of Halethorpe, Md; Fire Controlman 1st Class Gary Leo Rehm Jr., 37, of Elyria, Ohio.

"We are all deeply saddened by the tragic loss of our fellow shipmates ... as details emerge, we can all be proud of the...

Posted by The Virginian-Pilot on Monday, June 19, 2017
 

Divers found the missing sailors after they were able to gain access to parts of the USS Fitzgerald that were damaged in the collision.

Two months later, the USS John S. McCain and an oil tanker collided, killing 10 U.S. sailors.

The deceased in that incident: Electronics Technician 1st Class Charles Nathan Findley, 31, Amazonia, Mo.; Interior Communications Electrician 1st Class Abraham Lopez, 39, El Paso; Electronics Technician 2nd Class Kevin Sayer Bushell, 26, Gaithersburg, Md.; Electronics Technician 2nd Class Jacob Daniel Drake, 21, Cable, Ohio; Information Systems Technician 2nd Class Timothy Thomas Eckels Jr., 23, Manchester, Md.; Information Systems Technician 2nd Class Corey George Ingram, 28, Poughkeepsie, N.Y.; Electronics Technician 3rd Class Dustin Louis Doyon, 26, Suffield, Conn.; Electronics Technician 3rd Class John Henry Hoagland III, 20, Killeen, Tex.; Interior Communications Electrician 3rd Class Logan Stephen Palmer, 23, Decatur, Ill.; Electronics Technician 3rd Class, Kenneth Aaron Smith, 22, Cherry Hill, N.J.

The Navy dismissed three-star commander of the U.S. Seventh Fleet Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin in August after “los[ing] confidence in his ability to command.”

– The Associated Press contributed to this report.