BY BUCK QUAYLE
Lahainaluna Gym Burns
The gymnasium at Lahainaluna High School burned to the ground early Saturday morning (Aug. 24)- just three days after another fire distroyed Lahaina's Sacred Hearts School.
According to Police Chief Abraham Aiona, who was on the scene, "We can't discount the possibility it may have been set by someone."
Lahainaluna Principal Ralph Murakami said the fire was spotted about 1:50 a.m. by George Kaoni and Merle Minimi, who notified him. Murakami said Kaoni was a June 1971 graduate of the school who was "taking his girl for a spin".
Murakami phoned the fire department about 1:57. He said he ran to the gym from his nearby quarters and "saw the flames leaping from the mauka end of the building". He said he then ran over to the right and saw the gym also was on fire at that end.
Sugliichi Hiraga, deputy fire chief, arrived on the first fire truck at the scene between 2:05 and 2;07 a.m. He said the entire structure was ablaze, with sparks flying 700 to 800 feet away. "I realized there was nothing we could do except try and contain the fire," he said.
Hiraga said when he realized the extent of the fire he ran to telephone "another four or five" off-duty firemen to assist the six men at the scene.
According to Hiraga, the nearest water source was a ditch several hundred yards away. Since the level was low, a call was made to Pioneer Mill to open the flood gates.
The entire gym collapsed about 2:15 or 2:20, he said. The remnants of the Lahainaluna gym burns and burns until...
The fire was out, and a majority of the men returned to the station, about 6:30 a.m.
Murakami said he believed all state buildings are insured. He said the termite-eaten gym was built in 1929 at a cost of $20,000. Earlier this year, the state legislature appropriated $50,000 to begin planning for a new Lahainaluna gym.
According to Murakami, the building contained about $3,000 worth of equipment including chairs, spotlights, old tables, lockers and a few basketballs.
Buck Quayle at the Maui Lahaina Sun bureau circa 1970
Reporter/Photographer Buck Quayle in 1971 in Maui with the Cartagenian in the background
Another Day At The Office Haleakala National Park