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Honokaa school students evacuated due to Hazmat situation

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Hawaii County Civil Defense Hazmat alert for Honokaa schools


Honokaa Elementary, Intermediate and High Schools are being evacuated and are closed for the day as a precaution due to a chemical odor.

Students who ride the bus are being bused home. For students who don’t ride the bus, parents may pick up High School and Intermediate students on Mamane Street and Elementary School students on Pakalana Street.

Pakalana Street is closed to everyone else.

The Fire Department’s Haz-Mat team is responding.

The Department of Education will provide parents with additional information by telephone.

The public is advised to avoid the area unless they are picking up students.

From the Department of Education:

Students at Honokaa Elementary and Honokaa High & Intermediate were sent home at around 10:45 a.m. today due to a strong chemical odor that affected about 50 people at the High & Intermediate school. According to hazardous materials (HAZMAT) investigators, the odor was traced to a nearby resident who was using a mix of chemicals to spray his yard.

Honokaa High & Intermediate school officials notified the Hawaii County Fire Department of the chemical odor shortly after 9 a.m. Fire HAZMAT crews arrived on scene and advised school officials to evacuate the schools due to the strong odor.

School officials immediately notified parents and coordinated early student bus transportation.

About 40 students and 10 adults from Honokaa High & Intermediate school who reported feeling symptoms of nausea, dizziness and respiratory problems were sent to nearby medical centers for treatment.

There were no reports of medical issues at Honokaa Elementary, which is located across the street from the High & Intermediate school.

Investigators advised school officials of the source of the smell at 11:15 a.m.

The schools will resume their regular schedules tomorrow. Honokaa Elementary enrolls some 364 students while about 600 students attend Honokaa High & Intermediate.


Hawaiʻi Island police closed Pakalana Street in Honokaʻa to the general public at 9:45 a.m. Thursday (September 18) while students from Honoka‘a Elementary, Intermediate and High Schools were evacuated as a precaution due to a chemical odor in the area.

During the evacuation, Pakalana Street was open only to parents picking up students from Honoka‘a Elementary School.

A Fire Department Haz-Mat team determined that the odor was caused by pesticide that had been sprayed at a residence in close proximity to the school.

After personnel from the State Department of Health and State Department of Agriculture responded to the scene and investigated, school officials announced that all three schools will be open tomorrow.

Pakalana Street was reopened to the public at noon.

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