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Kawaihae Information Update # 2 for April 23rd, 2020

Hawaii Fire Department (HFD) crews continue to battle a 160-acre brush fire that started Thursday morning (April 23rd) in Kaiopae Gulch, North Kohala.

Published By: HIRSC Team - Hawaii Island (Holualoa) Section

The Hawaii Fire Department (HFD) along with the Hawaii Police Department (HPD) remains at the scene of an active brush fire that started Thursday morning (April 23rd) in the area of Kaiopae Gulch in North Kohala.

The initial call came in 8:21 am Thursday morning and HFD crews from the South Kohala, North Kohala, Waikoloa, and Waimea Fire Stations along with Battalion 2, Chopper 1, Chopper 2, HFD Fire Recruits from the 48th and 49th class, volunteers from the Kohala Ranch, Anekona, Kalaoa Mauka, and Ocean View Stations, U.S. Army Fire Crews from Pohakuloa Training Area (PTA), and HPD officers from the North Kohala Patrol responded to the scene located at Kaiopae Gulch at the 5.5-mile marker of Akoni Pule Highway (Highway 270).

Upon the arrival of emergency crews, reports came in that electrical transformer that blew in the area of Kaiopae Gulch south of Kohala Estates/Kohala by the Sea subdivision and sparked a small brush fire at the time of the first report to HFD.

Once emergency crews arrived at the scene, HFD immediately worked to protect residential structures in the area of the fire and also worked to gain access to the fire. HFD crews encountered a handful of challenges while battling this:

  • Due to the blown electrical transformer, HFD crews were not able to immediately access the original scene of the fire until the power was de-energized. However, HFD crews focused on containing the fire and protecting structures in the Kohala Ranch, Kohala Estates/Kohala by the Sea, and Kawaihae Hawaiian Homes subdivisions.

  • Dry brush and conditions in the area of the fire were also the cause for fire spread quickly in the area. Winds at the time of the fire remained light and was blowing towards the mountain.

  • The terrain and limited roads to the fire in the area made it difficult for HFD personnel to contain/extinguish the fire. One County Bulldozer and two privately contracted bulldozers assisted with creating fire breaks around the perimeter of the fire and allowing crews to contain and extinguish the fire. Both Chopper 1 and 2 also assisted ground crews with water bucket drops with the use of a Bambi Bucket to help reach inaccessible areas.

As of 3:45 pm Thursday afternoon, the brushfire has scorched an estimated 160 acres of open pasture land and no homes or injuries were reported as a result of the fire. No road closures or evacuations were made during the fire, however, nearby residents were asked to be prepared to evacuate at any given moment should conditions change.

HFD crews will continue to remain on scene throughout the night and also expected to monitor the area over the next several days for any hotspots and flare-ups that should arise.

The HIRSC Team will continue to monitor this incident and will provide an update as information becomes available.

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