Thursday, December 27, 2001

Hugo Okonogi took his five lovebirds out of his apartment yesterday when the fire started at Eggs 'n Things.

Fire damages
well-known eatery

Smoke from the Eggs 'n Things blaze
forces the evacuation of apartments above

By Rod Antone

Fire crews responding last night to a kitchen fire at Eggs 'n Things restaurant in Waikiki were forced to evacuate dozens of people who live in the same six-story building.

The eatery, well known to late-night club-goers and early risers for its omelets and pancakes, was reported to be surrounded in gray smoke at 7:41 p.m.

"The smoke was really dense. You couldn't see two inches in front of your face," said Hugo Okonogi, who lives on the third floor of the building at 1911 Kalakaua Ave.

"I was talking to my daughter in Oregon, and I said, 'Honey I gotta go, they're evacuating the building because it's on fire.'"

"She said, 'OK, Dad, Merry Christmas.'"

Firemen prepared to enter the restaurant to see if there were any more hot spots after the fire was initially put out.

Okonogi said he grabbed his five lovebirds and left his money and other possessions behind. Fire officials said other residents already had evacuated before they arrived on the scene.

"We assisted those who needed help coming down, and knocked on doors to make sure nobody else was upstairs," said Honolulu Fire Department spokesman Capt. Kenison Tejada. "But most of them were already gone."

Because the all-night eatery is open from 11 p.m. to 2 p.m., Tejada said, there were no restaurant employees in Eggs 'n Things when the fire started. Witnesses said they saw smoke pouring out of a vent in the back of the restaurant along with another vent that appeared to lead to the roof.

Fire crews on the scene said they saw mostly the same thing inside.

"They broke open the front (under) heavy smoke conditions, but it wasn't really hot smoke," said Tejada. "Most of the flame damage was contained to the stove area and some big pots on the stove. ... The flames hadn't gotten hot enough to spread to the rest of the business yet."

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

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