Fire Intentionally Set at Dept. of Health

Fire damage within the lobby to the State Department of Health building.
Fire damage within the lobby to the State Department of Health building.

Honolulu (KHNL) - Hundreds of people go to the department of health every day.

Wednesday,most of them left frustrated and empty handed. The state building was closed for cleanup, the day after a suspected arson fire tore through the lobby.

Pastor Roger De Asis was one of many who stood at the door surveying the damage. "I had to leave a funeral early to come down here. I believe other people are frustrated."

Signs told them where to call for emergencies.

Health Department Director Dr. Chiyome Fukino explains, "If someone has an extreme emergency like you're getting married tomorrow and you waited till today, there is a number you can call."

The doors are boarded up after a suspected arson fire Tuesday night in the lobby. Four employees evacuated. Investigators found a gas container at the scene.

Evacuee Susan Jackson was working late that night and describes the scene. "The entire lobby was pitch black. Midnight black. The lights here are always on and you couldn't see your hand in front of your face."

The fire damaged the front door so nobody can get inside. Inside the building, the cleanup continues. Health officials plan to open Thursday because about 200 people a day use this agency.

Says Dr. Fukino, "This is very inconvenient for people. We see 100 people a day for marriage licenses alone."

There will be extra security Thursday when the doors open due to the higher than usual crowd that's expected.

Fukino says when the doors are rebuilt, the DOH plans to make them stronger.

This is the third fire at the health department in recent history.