Fire Rips Through University Lab School

Chopper 8 over the scene of a major blaze at UH Lab School Tuesday afternoon
Chopper 8 over the scene of a major blaze at UH Lab School Tuesday afternoon

MANOA (KHNL) -  The University of Hawaii Lab School sustained extensive damage following a raging fire late Tuesday afternoon.

A second alarm went out to Honolulu firefighters at about 3:49pm.  Smoke and flames from the fire could clearly be seen from the H-1 freeway.  Trade winds blew thick plumes of smoke  toward town and the Moiliili neighborhood.

Chopper 8 was quickly above the scene giving viewers a look at how quickly the flames were devouring a roof atop the school's oldest building.  It's the building that houses music and arts programs, as well as sports equipment.

Smoke filled Hoonanea street, just behind the school. The people who live there were all evacuated.

Paramedics treated four people in the area for smoke inhalation, as well as one firefighter.  Three police officers had to be taken to the hospital.

Scotty Sugiyama and his grandson Raymond were in Waikiki when they saw ash falling from the sky.

"I kid you not. You could see the black cloud of smoke coming. It was an ominous cloud coming toward the building then we saw the ashes," said Scott Sugiyama.

"My first impression is I can't believe this is happening. Of all the things you wouldn't expect to see in a normal day, you wouldn't expect a fire," said bystander Scott Watson who stopped to watch firefighters battle the flames.

The school's summer session began Tuesday, but classes let out at noon, and luckily, most of the people were gone when the fire broke out.

"There were a few people inside the building at the time of the fire and they were warned by someone inside and they were able to make it out safely," said Honolulu Fire Department spokesman Kenison Tejada.

"I could see the smoke right when I got outta my car. Was real smokey. I thought had barbeque or hulihuli chicken or something at Daiei. But, no, my friend told me had one fire," said Scott Ramos who also made his way to the fire scene with dozens of other curious onlookers.

The lab school opened in 1939 as an organized research unit in the University of Hawaii's college of education.

380 students from grades kinderarten through 12th grade attend University Lab School during the regular school year.

Summer school classes will resume Wednesday morning as scheduled.  School officials and fire investigators have yet to determine the extent of the fire and smoke damage.