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Fire destroys building that stores money records for UH system

By Dan Nakaso

LAST UPDATED: 4:15 p.m. HST, Feb 12, 2012

Honolulu firefighters continue to battle a fire at the University of Hawaii's lower campus that has destroyed a portable, wooden building next to the Stan Sheriff Center.

The fire to the 2,500- to 3,000-square foot fiscal management and procurement office was reported at 8:03 a.m. and firefighters had it under control at 8:21 a.m.

But around 10 a.m. today, "it just erupted into flames," Honolulu Fire Capt. Robert Main said.

The fire remains isolated to the single building and firefighters are trying to keep it from spreading, Main said.

"Once it got into the roof structure, we had problems getting into the roof area and opening it up," Main said. 

The building houses computerized and paper records for payroll, vendor payments and student loans for the entire 10-campus, UH system of about 60,000 students and 7,000 to 8,000 faculty and staff, said UH spokesman Gregg Takayama.

"Some of the records are backed-up on an off campus site, but most are not," Takayama said. "We won't know the impact until they're able to get back into the office and determine what kind of computer records and paper records can be salvaged. For now it's a bit too early to say what the immediate impact is."

The fire dislocated a UH staff of about 40 employees, Takayama said.

"Firemen did a great job in confining the fire to just that one building because it's very close to other wooden structures that are in that lower campus area," Takayama said.

The fire had caused an estimated $500,000 to the structure and $100,000 to the computers, files and other contents, Main said this morning.

But the damage is now considered a total loss, Main said.

The cause remains under investigation.

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