JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARBULLETIN.COM
Workers cleaned up water and debris Sunday at Edmonson Hall on the University of Hawaii at Manoa campus. A small fire is believed to have ruptured a water pipe, causing flooding during the weekend.
Fire highlights need for fixes at UH
Classes at the University of Hawaii's Edmondson Hall have been relocated while cleanup continues from a fire and subsequent flood caused when a water pipe burst during the weekend, a university official said.
The cause of the fire has not been determined, but university spokesman Gregg Takayama said authorities are focusing on an electrical outlet in a professor's office on the third floor.
A damage estimate also was unavailable yesterday, Takayama said, noting that insurance adjusters have not been able to access parts of the building during the cleanup.
"They do have blowers and dehumidifiers going in the building right now, around the clock," he said. "The goal right now is to remove as much moisture as possible as quickly as possible, because the lesson learned is that moisture creates mold, and that increases the problems.
"It looks like the cleanup is going fairly quickly. I just don't have an exact time yet" when it will be finished, he added.
The fire, which is believed to have caused the pipe to rupture, apparently began sometime after the last person left the building at 5 p.m. Saturday. Water from the broken pipe put out the fire but flowed unnoticed to the lower floors until a maintenance worker opened the building Sunday morning, Takayama said.
Classes in the building were canceled yesterday as professors worked out arrangements to use available rooms in other buildings, he said.
Edmondson is home to the university's Zoology Department. It holds biology and zoology classes as well as two general lecture halls for the university.
Water damaged classrooms, labs and a handful of faculty offices.
Some professors said the extensive water damage could have been prevented if a proper fire warning system had been in place.
The building, built in 1962, has no sprinkler system and has fire alarms installed only in the hallways.
The university acknowledges that Edmondson is in need of renovations, Takayama said, but noted that it is on a list of 169 projects that are backlogged because of a lack of money.
"We do need to renovate the building. We do need to renovate the electrical system," he said. "There is a list of more than $100 million worth of projects that are awaiting funding."