"As far as how the conditions are, we had to evacuate our firefighters about two or three times", Honolulu Fire Department Manuel Neves was quoted as saying. Two people have reportedly been hospitalized in serious condition.
Mayor Kirk Caldwell made the revelation at a Friday night news conference outside the Marco Polo condominium complex.
The fire had started on the 26th floor but spread to the 25th and 27th floor and reached both sides of the building, which has one side facing the ocean and the other facing the Manoa mountain range.
At least three people have died in a massive four-alarm fire sweeping through a Honolulu high-rise apartment building that lacks a sprinkler systems, fire department officials said.
Fire Capt. David Jenkins said evacuations are underway.
Some residents in the 568-apartment tower are still unaccounted for and firefighters are going door-to-door in an effort to find them.
As of 4:45pm local time (10:45pm Eastern) the flames continued to spread to multiple floors.
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Sharon added: " I can remember running towards Andy and then the next thing just struggling for breath and my back was hurting ". According to Sharon, Andy proposed on Christmas Day, and the pair plan to Wednesday before family and friends next year.
The Hawaii Red Cross said on Twitter that those evacuated from the building were being accommodated at a nearby park and tended to be volunteers.
Some residents were treated for smoke inhalation, KHON reported.
"Paramedics are expediting emergency treatment with a triage location inside the building", Shayne Enright of the city's Emergency Medical Services department told the paper. The fire department headed over to the building Friday at 2:15 p.m. local time (8:15 p.m. ET).
He said: "It doesn't help to just stand and watch". Leonard Rosa, a security officer in the building, said it will be "hours" before the fire is under control.
He was able to exit the building from another fire escape, "with many neighbors exiting as well", Horiguchi said.
Daniel Hildebrandt, a tour guide who saw the fire told CNN: "It was smoke at first and it got worse and worse. there were flames coming out of the window and people that seem to be trapped on their balcony", he said.
Police had been yelling through megaphones, telling those inside to come down, Mr Yasuda added. Yasuda says some people are being carried out.