Wednesday, August 15, 2001

Honolulu Fire Department Capt. Richard Soo relays information
to the media about the gas leak in Waikiki that closed
Kalakaua Avenue this morning.

Gas leak closes part of Waikiki

A construction crew
this morning breaks an
8-inch natural gas line

Authorities evacuate some
buildings and reroute
traffic near Fort DeRussy

By Nelson Daranciang

Honolulu police closed traffic to three major entrances to Waikiki and evacuated several buildings this morning after a construction crew doing some roadwork near the Kuhio Avenue intersection broke an underground gas line this morning near the intersection of Kalakaua and Kuhio Avenues.

The Ft. DeRussy office building, Waikiki Terrace Hotel, an ABC Store and Keo's in Waikiki Restaurant were evacuated at about 9:45 a.m.


The evacuation is "going really smooth," said front desk clerk Tina Beach, noting that she was calling each of the approximately 230 occupied rooms to tell guests about the situation.

Beach said the odor of natural gas became detectable to her at about 9 a.m.

Steve Golden, a gas company spokesman, said they were notified at about 8:45 a.m. that the 8-inch natural gas line had ruptured. The company is putting in a temporary clamp to get Kalakaua Avenue open again, but he said eventually they will have to dig up the road and make a permanent repair.

Golden said he expected the temporary repair would be finished shortly after 11 a.m.

Honolulu Fire Capt. Richard Soo said that the evacuations were just a precaution.

"Fortunately the gas is leaking into an open area and there are tradewinds," he said.

"If it had been in a confined space, it would have been more of a problem," he added.

Five fire engine companies, one ladder and two HAZMAT team responded to the two-alarm call. There were no reports of injuries.

Police set up road blocks at the intersection of Atkinson Drive and Ala Moana Boulevard, Kapiolani Boulevard and Kalakaua Avenue intersection and McCully and Kapiolani for traffic going into Waikiki.

A puzzled tourist crosses Kalakaua Avenue this morning after
police, fire and hazardous materials units
blocked the busy thoroughfare.

Motorists entering Waikiki from Kapahulu Avenue were allowed to travel on Ala Wai Boulevard but were not allowed to turn into Waikiki. Cars traveling on Kuhio Avenue were diverted onto Ala Wai Boulevard. "It's really inconvenient. I'm losing a lot of my stops because I can't go through the area," said Josh Garlutzo, a Fuji Films employee who was caught in traffic at Atkinson Drive and Kapiolani Boulevard.

It was even more of an inconvenience for Johan Wiklund and a companion who just arrived in Honolulu from Sweden with four suitcases.

Wiklund said he was stuck in traffic for 20-minutes near Kalakaua and Kapiolani avenues.

Finally, the cab driver dropped them off at the Hard Rock Cafe and they prepared to walk the rest of the way to their hotel at the Ohana Edgewater.

"It's not what I planned," he said.

Star-Bulletin reporters B.J. Reyes, Gordon Y.K. Pang
and Treena Shapiro contributed to this report.

E-mail to City Desk

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