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The Honolulu Advertiser

Updated at 3:14 p.m., Sunday, October 21, 2007

Fire, water damage close UH's Edmondson Hall

Advertiser Staff


Firefighter Jake Nakajima of the Manoa station helps clear out water at UH's Edmondson Hall.

Joaquin Siopack | The Honolulu Advertiser

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Parts of Edmondson Hall on the University of Hawai'i at Manoa campus have suffered extensive water damage after a fire on the building's third floor.

It appears that the fire was related to an electrical wiring problem in an old air-conditioning unit in the office occupied by Associate Professor Lenny Freed.

The building, which houses the school's zoology department, will not be open Monday for classes.

University spokesman Gregg Takayama said today that officials were examining damage from the water, which was discovered by a maintenance worker about 8 a.m. this morning. He said parts of the building's third, second and first floors that house offices, laboratories and classrooms sustained damage.

Edmondson Hall, next to the university's Hamilton Library, is one of the older buildings on campus and does not have a sprinkler system, Takayama said.

Freed said he was almost in a state of shock from the fire, which he said destroyed thousands of scientific articles, books and slides used in his research on endangered forest birds.

Prior to the fire he had told the university the air conditioning unit was on its last legs but had no idea it might cause a fire.

"They usually don't die with a burst of flame, which may have occurred in this case," said Freed, who has been at UH since 1983.

Takayama said officials and the Honolulu Fire Department were still investigating the cause of the fire. Engine and ladder companies helped with the cleanup at the four-story structure.