Compressor blowout leads to an evacuation

Times Supermarket in Kihei was evacuated Wednesday night after a compressor running refrigeration for chillers blew out, causing an explosion and white vapor cloud, a fire official said.

Kihei and Wailea firefighters and a hazardous materials crew from Kahului were dispatched after the 8:25 p.m. alarm at the store at 1310 S. Kihei Road, said Fire Services Chief Lee Mainaga. Fire crews reported seeing the white cloud when they arrived, but it soon dissipated.

Police closed South Kihei Road fronting the store and West Lipoa Street on the south side of the store for about 30 minutes after the explosion.

The store had been evacuated before firefighters arrived, with about 30 employees and customers in the parking lot. Two employees were treated at the scene after complaining of dizziness and shortness of breath, Mainaga said. Both refused transport to the hospital.

The vapor cloud was identified as R22 refrigerant, he said. After being closed following the explosion, the store was reopened at 11 p.m. Wednesday after the hazardous materials crew determined it was safe. Refrigeration technicians entered the store to do repair work.