JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARBULLETIN.COM
Firefighters busily hauled hoses Tuesday to fight the blaze at the University Lab School. Police estimate damage to the contents at $500,000. Fire investigators will spend the weekend talking to witnesses and employees and will return to the scene Monday to continue sifting through the debris.
Lab School donations reach nearly $16,000
Christmas came early for the fire-ravaged University Laboratory School when Altres Staffing President Barron Guss dropped off a $10,000 check yesterday, designating the school as the company's 2006 holiday gift recipient.
Two groups are collecting donations to help the University Laboratory School. They are:
The University of Hawaii Foundation. Donations accepted by phone at 956-8849, online at www.uhf.hawaii.edu (select the UH Laboratory School Fire Recovery Fund) or by mail to UH Foundation, P.O. Box 11270, Honolulu, HI 96828-0270.
The University Laboratory School Alumni Association. Checks can be made out to "ULSAA." Mail donations to Lanning Lee, ULSAA No. 411, 2440 Campus Road, Honolulu, HI 96822.
The donation brings the total to nearly $16,000 collected from 42 entities over three days since Tuesday's fire destroyed a large campus building, said Patrick Williams, a spokesman for the University of Hawaii Foundation, which collects donations electronically, by phone or in person.
Although the organization has yet to determine the best use of the money, Williams said the foundation intends to use a portion of it to replace the contents lost in the fire, which police estimated at about $500,000.
Officials with the charter school say they believe that number is low but were unable to specify a total dollar amount for the lost contents.
However, some departments were able to provide a detailed inventory list and an estimate.
The school's dean, Randy Hitz, estimated the faculty offices contained numerous computers with at least $4 million worth of research for grant projects.
School music director Ira Wong estimated it would cost up to $80,000 to replace musical equipment and more than 83 school-owned instruments that included 58 violins, 12 violas, 10 cellos, three string basses and one spinet piano.
Hitz has said there is money in the school's budget to replace a good portion of the instruments this year.
The University Laboratory School Alumni Association also is accepting donations to help the school recover.
"I'll take $1 donations," association Vice President Lanning Lee said earlier this week.
Checks can be made out to "ULSAA." Donations can be mailed to Lanning Lee, ULSAA No. 411, 2440 Campus Road, Honolulu 96822.
The alumni association, a nonprofit organization, has received about 200 e-mails from Lab School graduates who want to help. Lee said they plan to hold their fifth annual alumni dinner on July 1 at the school's multipurpose building, where they will welcome donations from former students.
Ryan Urabe, a 2003 Lab School graduate, said in addition to priceless records and memorabilia, the athletic department lost all of Pac-5's wrestling mats, a new Pilates machine and a bunch of new weight-room equipment.
"They even had a trampoline that wasn't new, but it was fun to jump on," Urabe said.
Urabe said the drama department lost costumes and expensive lighting and sound equipment.
UH spokesman Jim Manke said the building was constantly undergoing improvements, including a recently varnished gym floor and temporary electrical line.
However, he noted, "None of it appeared to be a factor in causing the fire."
Honolulu Police Department Detective Gary Lahens, who is leading the investigation, said he could reach a conclusion as early as today, but would not go into detail about his findings.
Honolulu Fire Department spokesman Capt. Jerry Spencer said investigators will spend the weekend talking to witnesses and employees and return to the scene Monday to continue sifting through the debris.
"We haven't ruled out any sources and are taking our time to conduct a thorough investigation," said Spencer, who noted that it is not unusual to conduct a several-day investigation and utilize an arson investigator from the mainland for a fire of this magnitude.
Star-Bulletin reporter Rosemarie Bernardo contributed to this report.