Probe into fatal Honolulu apartment tower fire

Honolulu fire officials on Saturday were hoping to determine the cause of a blaze that tore through three upper floors of a 36-story residential tower in Hawaii’s capital, killing at least three people.

The blaze on Friday, which took firefighters about four hours to extinguish, caused debris to rain down from the Marco Polo tower overlooking a beachfront tourist district, forcing the closure of a major road and sending thick, black smoke billowing over the city.

It also highlighted the absence of sprinkler systems in some older buildings, which became mandatory in Honolulu high-rises in 1974. The Marco Polo opened three years earlier.

“Without a doubt if there was sprinklers in this apartment, the fire would be contained to the unit of origin,” Honolulu Fire Chief Manuel Neves told reporters, adding that it took more than 100 firefighters to control the blaze.

The blaze erupted a month to the day after the tragedy at Grenfell Tower, the London high-rise where at least 80 people died in a fire in an older building also unequipped with sprinklers. (Reuters)

See more news-related photo galleries and follow us on Yahoo News Photo Twitter and Tumblr.

A police officer directs a fire truck

A police officer directs a fire truck at the Marco Polo apartment building after a fire broke out in it in Honolulu, Hawaii, July 14, 2017. (Photo: Hugh Gentry/Reuters)

Charred exterior

The charred exterior of the Marco Polo Building is pictured after a fire broke out on the upper floors in Honolulu, Hawaii, on July 14, 2017. (Photo: Kent Nishimura/AFP/Getty Images)

Evacuated residents talk

Karen Hastings (L), who was evacuated from the floors where the fire broke out at Marco Polo apartment building, talks with another resident, in Honolulu, Hawaii, July 14, 2017. (Photo: Hugh Gentry/Reuters)

An evacuation bus moves residents

An evacuation bus takes residents of the Marco Polo building to a nearby shelter after a deadly fire at the building, Friday, July 14, 2017, in Honolulu. (Photo: Marco Garcia/AP)

Scene of the fire

Law enforcement officers stand at the scene of a multi-alarm fire at the Marco Polo apartment complex in Honolulu, Hawaii, Friday, July 14, 2017. (Photo: Marco Garcia/AP)

Evacuees arrive at a shelter

Residents of the Marco Polo building register at a shelter for overnight accommodations after a deadly fire tore through the high rise building, Friday, July 14, 2017, in Honolulu, Hawaii. (Photo: Marco Garcia/AP)

A fire department helicopter flies over

A Honolulu Fire Department helicopter flies near a fire burning on a floor at the Marco Polo apartment complex, Friday, July 14, 2017, in Honolulu, Hawaii. (Photo: Marco Garcia/AP)

Onlookers watch the fire

Onlookers stand on a sidewalk as a fire burns at the Marco Polo apartment complex, Friday, July 14, 2017, in Honolulu, Hawaii. (Photo: Marco Garcia/AP)

Firefighters spray water upwards

Firefighters on several balconies spray water upwards while trying to contain a fire at the Marco Polo apartment complex, Friday, July 14, 2017, in Honolulu, Hawaii. (Photo: Marco Garcia/AP)

Paramedics prepare to go into the building

Search and Rescue paramedics prepare to go into Marco Polo apartment building after a fire broke out in it in Honolulu, Hawaii, July 14, 2017. (Photo: Hugh Gentry/Reuters)

Smoke billows from the upper floors

Smoke billows from the upper floors of the Marco Polo apartment complex, Friday, July 14, 2017, in Honolulu, Hawaii. (Photo: Marco Garcia/AP)

A paramedic checks a woman

A paramedic checks on a woman, lying on a median, after she and others exited the Marco Polo apartment complex as firefighters continue to battle a blaze at the high-rise, Friday, July 14, 2017, in Honolulu, Hawaii. (Photo: Marco Garcia/AP)

Firefighters spray water upwards

Firefighters on a lower balcony spray water upwards while trying to contain a fire at the Marco Polo apartments, Friday, July 14, 2017, in Honolulu, Hawaii. (Photo: Marco Garcia/AP)

A woman is placed in an ambulance

A woman, who exited the Marco Polo apartment complex, is placed in an ambulance as firefighters continue to battle the blaze at the high-rise, Friday, July 14, 2017, in Honolulu, Hawaii. (Photo: Marco Garcia/AP)

Smoke billows from the upper floors

Smoke billows from the upper floors of the Marco Polo apartment complex, Friday, July 14, 2017, in Honolulu, Hawaii. (Photo: Marco Garcia/AP)

Evacuated residents look up

Evacuated residents look up at Marco Polo apartment building after a fire broke out in it in Honolulu, Hawaii, July 14, 2017. (Photo: Hugh Gentry/Reuters)

A police officer directs a fire truck

A police officer directs a fire truck to the Marco Polo apartment building after a fire broke out in it in Honolulu, Hawaii, July 14, 2017. (Photo: Hugh Gentry/Reuters)

The smokey Waikiki skyline

Smoke from a deadly fire at the Marco Polo apartment complex, covers the Waikiki skyline Friday, July 14, 2017, in Honolulu, Hawaii. (Photo: Marco Garcia/AP)