STAR-BULLETIN / JUNE 2006
Nearly four months after a fire burned down a wooden building at the University of Hawaii Lab School, work will finally begin this week to remove the debris from the blaze. Shown is the rubble left after the fire in June.
Lab school cleanup to start
A contractor finally will begin clearing debris at the hazardous site, the result of arson in June
Nearly four months after a fire burned down a wooden building at the University of Hawaii Lab School, work will finally begin this week to remove the debris from the blaze.
The 65-year-old structure -- which housed four classrooms, music and physical education programs and offices for the College of Education -- went up in flames June 13* in what's believed to be a case of arson.
The debris left by the fire is considered hazardous material that could not be removed because lead was found in one portion of the building, although not in other sections.
The area is fenced off and has been watched by UH security guards 24 hours a day since the fire.
After soliciting bids, the university last week selected Ralph S. Inouye Co. to remove the debris under a $442,000 contract, and work is scheduled to begin Tuesday, said UH spokesman Jim Manke.
"I'm just glad it's going to be cleaned up," said Donald Young, interim director of UH-Manoa's College of Education. "Finally there's a sense of progress."
Young said four portable buildings that will temporarily replace the classrooms and offices will also arrive in November, but it will take a few weeks to install them, connect electricity and build sidewalks to the portables. Children, teachers and faculty displaced by the fire won't be able to use the portables until the next semester begins in January, he said.
"It means people will be a little tighter on space for a few more weeks," Young said. "But it doesn't make sense to rush things and make the changes and then go on Christmas break."
The university distributed a letter to nearby residents Friday afternoon to let them know about the removal.
Jody Hanson said she's been walking past the debris for months.
"It's about time that they removed it," she said. But she added it's sad that the person or persons responsible for setting the fire haven't been caught.
Young said the debris removal plan was approved by the state Health Department. The contractor will water down the area to keep dust at a minimum, the air will be monitored daily and containment steps taken, he added.
The initial work will involve building a gravel road to the site from Metcalf Street so trucks can get to the area, and constructing 12-foot dust screens and a silt fence around it.
On Thursday, the contractor will start tearing down parts of the building that are still standing.
Demolition and removal of the rest of the debris is expected to start on Oct. 17 and be completed in early November.
Work will take place between 7 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. on weekdays.
The university will be lobbying the Legislature for $49.5 million to build a new College of Education building eventually on the site of the burned building.
Damage from the fire was estimated at $6.5 million, but that was before hazardous materials were found in the debris.
Young said the university had received about $1.75 million so far in insurance payments to pay for things like relocating offices and classrooms, and security guards to prevent people from going through the debris.
Friday, October 13, 2006
» The University of Hawaii Lab School fire occurred June 13. A story on Page A17 in Sunday incorrectly said it happened June 16.