Kahului Elementary School remains closed following fire

KAHULUI, Hawaii — Kahului Elementary School remains closed after a suspicious fire last week burned six classrooms and damaged the school’s waterlines.

The state Department of Education plans to reopen the school on Thursday, The Maui News reported .

Assistant Superintendent Dann Carlson said officials need to assess the structural safety of the damaged classrooms and secure access. The department also is assessing repairs to portable classrooms, which had relatively minor damage.

Maui Police Lt. Gregg Okamoto said Monday that there were no updates on the case. He said police were in the school area Friday night before the fire after receiving a call about suspicious people walking around the campus. Officers left after no one was found.

Police estimated structural damage at $900,000 and contents at $300,000. No injuries were reported and no arrests have been made.

Kawehiwehi Nakamoto-Palmero, a fourth-grader whose portable classroom was damaged, said she was both sad and mad over the incident “because all my life work from August to November is gone.”

The 9-year-old said she was supposed to go on a field trip Monday but couldn’t because the school was closed for students.

“It’s a waste of money and takes away little kids’ dreams,” she said.

Her mother, Kristie Nakamoto, said her daughter cried as she saw images of the fire via Facebook.

“She was worried about her paperwork and her artwork. She was so worried about her teachers,” Nakamoto said.

Another parent, Stacy Woodson, said her children, who are in the first and fifth grades, also cried as they watched the videos of the school burning via social media Saturday.

“We had to reassure them it’s not the whole school,” she said.

Woodson, who also attended the school in her youth, said it was “heartbreaking” that people “in an indirect way would attack our youth.”


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