Kamehameha School Fire Investigation Pursued
BY BUCK QUAYLE
Kamehameha School Fire
County authorities, school officials and teachers are busy this week on investigation and emergency planning in the aftermath of a fire which destroyed the Kam III School kindergarten in Lahaina Sept. 16.
The Hawaii State Teachers Assn. has asked for FBI intervention in the fire investigation, the posting of guards at all schools and emergency construction of new classrooms.
Maui police report they have two persons under surveillance, and are awaiting laboratory analysis of materials found at the fire scene.
School officials are busy with paperwork and planning as new supplies arrive daily.
According to Don Kessler, field representative for the Hawaii State Teachers Assn., "Not much decisive action has been taken. It's the third school fire in two months. The FBI are the recognized experts in this field and should be called in."
The teachers association also requested posting of guards from midnight to 6 a.m. at 16 Maui schools. The cost is estimated at $48 an hour.
"Since it is costing over $100,000 to replace the building and materials lost in the Kamehameha School fire," Kessler said, "it is clear that the posting of guards is far cheaper than replacement."
"The Dept. of Education has indicated that it would take two to three months to replace the Kamehameha School fire destroyed building with portable classrooms," he continued, "but the Hawaii State Teachers Assn. believes that the classrooms could be installed in one month's time if 100 per cent effort is put into finishing them."
Police are making nightly checks of Kam III School, Lahainaluna High School, Sacred Hearts School, the old Baldwin Packers Cannery, Honokowai School and Honolua School, all in West Maui.
According to the Lahaina police bulletin, officers have orders to observe the movements of two persons-one young man and one young woman-for possible connection with the fires.
Police Det. Kenneth Taguchi, in charge of the Kam III investigation, said he believed the woman has left the island and possibly returned to the mainland. He said he was not sure of the whereabouts of the man.
When asked if either of the persons were being followed constantly, Taguchi replied, "not necessarily".
He said police have no positive evidence of arson from any of the three recent fires in Lahaina-at Kam III, Sacred Hearts and Lahainaluna.
Taguchi said a sample of denim material of a type used in sleeping bags, found behind the Kam III kindergarden building, was sent to the FBI lab for analysis.
He said the material apparently had been used to cover three windows in the rear (oceanside) of the building. Apparently, he said, the material covering two of the windows had been destroyed. The sample sent in for examination had been rolled into a ball, he said, and had escaped destruction in the blaze.
He indicated he did not hold out much hope of obtaining any information from the material, but did not want to overlook any possible leads. "Normally," he said, "we would hear something from the 'pipeline'-but nothing.
"I keep thinking the answer is so close, and yet..."
Andy Nii, Maui district superindendent of schools, said support from the State in procuring new buildings and supplies for Kam III "has been terrific".
Nii said three double-portables (portable classrooms) have been approved for the school and construction should be complete in two to three months.
He said most of the Hawaii English Project material destroyed in the fire, some $3,800 worth of equipment, has been replaced. The material started coming in as early as last Friday, he said.
Stanley Izumigawa, Kam III principal, confirmed materials were coming in. He said the school also has received some $750 worth of paints, papers and art supplies from the Dept. of Education.
Izumigawa said he was working with Robert Matsumodo, staff specialist in business for Maui District schools, in inventory taking. The process is quite extensive and is not complete, Izumigawa said.
He also has consulted with two persons from the State Dept. of Accounting and General Services who were over from Honolulu.
Alvin Soares, vice principal, said furniture has been supplied from the Puunene and Wailuku elementary schools to replace that destroyed in the Kamehameha School fire.
From The Lahaina Sun, 1971.
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Maui Lahaina Sun
Buck Quayle at the Maui Lahaina Sun bureau circa 1970
Reporter/Photographer Buck Quayle in 1971 in Maui with the Cartagenian in the background
Buck Quayle, 2011
Another Day At The Office Haleakala National Park