Lanes reopen after Kapahulu Ave. gas line break, fire

Closures related to Monday night’s gas line break and fire on Kapahulu Avenue are back open for now.

The right mauka-bound lane on Kapahulu Avenue near Date Street as well as Mooheau Avenue were reopened as of 8:45 p.m. Wednesday.

Contractor Road Builders removed all contaminated soil, Hawaiian Telcom installed new overhead lines and restored service to surrounding businesses and Hawaii Gas removed the damaged portion of pipe, according to the city.

The ruptured gas line sparked a large, hours-long fire Monday night on Kapahulu Avenue. It was reported just before 9:30 p.m. near the intersection of Kapahulu Avenue and Date Street. Six fire companies staffed with 24 personnel responded to the call.

Fire officials said the fire began when the line was ruptured by what’s called an asphalt miller, a large piece of construction equipment used for removing asphalt.

Firefighters arrived to find columns of flames jetting approximately 20 feet out in all directions. Crews deployed constant streams of water to suppress the fire and protect neighboring structures and overhead power lines.

“It appears that the operator was digging and he struck a gas line and somehow it ignited,” said Ken Lee of the Honolulu Fire Department Monday night. “We can’t put the fire out until they shut down the gas… It’s actually better if it’s burning.”

D. Mori
D. Mori

 

Two operators in the asphalt miller were injured. One suffered burns from the flames and the other fell about eight feet from the vehicle.

According to Emergency Medical Services, their injuries were not life-threatening and both patients were transported to the hospital for treatment at 9:38 p.m.

Hawaii Gas arrived at 9:55 p.m. and reported that it would take approximately five hours to shut the gas off due to multiple lines feeding the leaks, fire officials said.

The gas line was finally shut off and the fire extinguished by 3:14 a.m. Tuesday.

Alan Tang of Hawaii Gas was on the scene Tuesday morning as the asphalt miller was removed.

“I have to give a shout-out to the fire department because they knew exactly what to do. Their job wasn’t to extinguish the fire. The key is that when the gas is burning, we know exactly where the leak is and that the gas is not escaping anywhere else. They kept the situation contained until our crews arrived to shut off the gas,” he said.

There was no damage reported to neighboring structures.

Several area businesses reported a dramatic drop in business. The city installed signs to notify customers that they remain open.

A state-contracted crew also removed oil from Ala Wai Canal, believed to have spilled in a storm drain during the break and fire.

HFD personnel notified the Hazard Evaluation and Emergency Response Office of the Hawaii Department of Health and the U.S. Coast Guard due to the potential for 200 gallons of diesel fuel, 80 gallons of hydraulic oil and an undetermined amount of asphalt released from the burning asphalt miller.

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