Fast-food worker suffers burns from explosion

KAILUA-KONA >> An employee at a Hawaii Panda Express was taken to the hospital for burn injuries following a suspected gas explosion at the restaurant.

Several businesses in the Kona Commons shopping center were evacuated Monday because of the explosion, West Hawaii Today reported.

Police arrived at 11:38 a.m. Fire crews were already on scene.

An employee told responders she smelled gas after a rice cooker dropped on the floor in the restaurant’s kitchen area. When she bent down to pick it up, the explosion occurred, burning her hands and arms, Officer Travis Bumgardner said.

She was taken to Kona Community Hospital for treatment.

Employees and customers were waiting in the parking lot as they watched personnel from the Hawaii Fire and Police departments respond to the scene.

Restaurant employee Chris Casino said there were two explosions, though he didn’t see them occur. After the first explosion he grabbed a fire extinguisher and put the flames out.

When the second explosion followed, Casino said, he activated a fire suppression device, then turned off the main gas line.

Chalsey Daog said she was among eight customers at Panda Express at the time of the explosions. “The wall was shaking and the ground was shaking,” Daog said as she described the explosions.

MAUI

County considers repairs to coastal road hit by storm

NAPILI, Maui >> Maui County is considering long-term fixes for a section of a coastal road that’s in danger of collapsing if another major storm hits.

A 30-foot section of Lower Honoapiilani Road near Kaopala Bay in West Maui needs to be protected, The Maui News reported.

Floodwaters from Tropical Storm Olivia warped and undermined the road in September, though it has reopened after cleaning and repaving.

The road serves several subdivisions and an hourly bus service connecting Napili and Kahana. Critical water and sewer lines run underneath. Engineer Kristi Ono told residents during a recent meeting that damage to the sewer line would be a disaster.

Public Works Director David Goode said that the department is working on temporary repairs.

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