Fire destroys historic building in Kalaupapa - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Fire destroys historic building in Kalaupapa

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(Historic American Buildings Survey/Library of Congress) (Historic American Buildings Survey/Library of Congress)

Flames destroyed a historic building in Kalaupapa, the settlement on Molokai where Hansen's Disease patients were forced into isolation.

The fire broke just before 2 a.m. Tuesday inside the state kitchen at the old administrator's house.

When the emergency siren sounded, the community rushed to the fire station. But by the time they drove their fire truck to the building, it was already engulfed in flames.

The structure is more than 80 years old. It's where the community's nine patients and 44 state workers still go every day to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Paul Hosten, acting superintendent for Kalaupapa National Historical Park, says it is a big loss to the settlement.

"It has a lot of memories associated with it," he said. "It was really an important, functional part to the park over here." 

The fire also damaged other nearby buildings. The cause is under investigation.

For now, the state will cook and prepare meals for residents and workers in another building.

Nearly 150 years ago, the first group of Hansen's Disease patients in Hawaii were exiled to Kalaupapa. Forced isolation continued until 1969, and altogether some 8,000 patients were sent to the colony. Today, 13 remain.

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