|About 1,800 guests were evacuated from the 1,000-room
Tapa Tower at the Hilton Hawaiian Village resort yesterday
after smoldering materials in a 15th-floor room sent
smoke into the corridor.
There were no injuries, said Honolulu Fire Department
Capt. Kenison Tejada, and physical damage appeared
confined to the room, although other rooms were affected
The fire was caused by an unattended candle in the
room, Tejada said.
But the guest occupying the room was not one of
hundreds of guests in the tower who won their trip
to Hawai'i and the Hilton for meeting sales goals
in a company that sells candles, Tejada said.
The guest in the room where the fire started, a
Schofield Barracks soldier, had a towel wrapped around
his waist while he talked with fire investigators
in the lobby.
The guest, who said he didn't want to comment on
what had happened, was soon given a kimono-type robe
by hotel staff.
The fire caused an estimated $24,000 worth of damage,
Hilton Senior Vice President Peter H. Schall said
no flames were reported seen, and that temperatures
in the room did not rise high enough to trigger the
hotel's automatic fire protection sprinkler system.
"The evacuation was very well done," said
hotel guest Linda Bolduc of Lowell, Mass., one of
hundreds of PartyLite candle and gift sales company
"consultants" who won their trip to Hawai'i
for their "Let It Shine" celebration by
Hotel staff speaking through loudspeakers on each
floor "told you exactly what was going on, and
that we should evacuate the building, using the stairs,
and not to use the elevators."
The first thing that crossed Bolduc's mind when
she heard the announcement, she said, was "I'd
better unplug the iron" she was using to press
some clothes for an "I gathered up my things
that I had right by the door, and thought, 'This is
real,' and left the room," she said.
"We all in orderly fashion went down the stairs.
It got slower and more crowded as we went down the
stairs and people from the lower floors came into
the stairwell," she said.
Bolduc guessed it took her about five or six minutes
to reach the ground from the 14th floor; others had
to walk down as many as 31 flights after the alarm
was sounded just after 4 p.m.
Schall praised his staff, and Fire Capt. Tejada
also was pleased with the hotel's response to the
"They did a really good job," Tejada said,
"and all their procedures were in place."
One guest, PartyLite consultant Tom Babcock of Marquette,
Mich., who was staying on the 15th floor, said thick
smoke filled the corridor from the ceiling down to
a point about his shoulder height.
"We had to duck down to get under it,"
An ambulance called to the scene at about the same
time was for another guest who had suffered an asthma
attack while in a bar on the ground floor, but his
situation was not related to the smoke, one hotel
Lani Bjork of Hilton's safety and security staff
invited people occupying the 32 rooms on the 15th
floor to come to the Shell Bar in the main lobby to
be given rooms elsewhere in the hotel if they wanted
"You will be the sole judge of whether any
of your things have been damaged by smoke," Bjork
told the guests sitting in the bar.
"You are our first priority, and we will respond
to whatever concerns you have," she said.
Most guests — many of them in swimwear —
patiently crowded into the lobbies, where bars and
restaurants did a brisk business during the two-hour
evacuation, orwalked out into the village to shop.
There was a surge in sales reported down the street
at Lappert's ice cream parlor.