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Kawaihae Information Update for May 1st, 2020

Small brush fire scorches 5 acres south of Kohala by the Sea subdivision Friday afternoon (May 1st).

Published by: HIRSC Team - Hawaii Island (Kamuela) Section


The Hawaii Fire Department (HFD) along with the Hawaii Police Department (HPD) responded to a report of a brush fire that started in the area south of Kohala by the Sea and Kohala Estates subdivision in North Kohala Friday afternoon (May 1st).

The initial call came in at 12:51 pm Friday afternoon and HFD crews from the South Kohala, North Kohala, Waimea, and Waikoloa Fire Stations along with Battalion 2, Chopper 2, Chopper 1 (from the Waiakea Fire Station), Volunteers from the Kohala Ranch station, and HPD officers from the North Kohala Patrol responded to the scene located south of the 59-100 block of Halekai Place in the Kohala by the Sea and Kohala Estates subdivision.

Upon the arrival of emergency crews, residents in the area reported a brush fire had started in dry brush south of the Kohala by the Sea and Kohala Estates subdivisions outside of the previous brush fire burn area also fire breaks created. Gusty trade winds blowing between 6 to 19 mph in the area caused the fire to spread quickly. Residents near the fire took necessary precautions until emergency crews arrived on the scene.

Once emergency crews arrived at the scene, HFD crews focused on preventing the fire from spreading further and also worked to protect nearby residences near the fire fronts. HFD crews encountered a few challenges while working to battle this brush fire:

  • Due to limited access to the new fire fronts, Both Chopper 2 and Chopper 1 conducted water bucket drops to help reach the inaccessible areas by ground crews. A bulldozer from the Department of Public Works (DPW) was utilized to create new fire breaks around the new brush fire area and also allow crews to access fire fronts.

  • Windy conditions in the area made it difficult for crews to quickly contain/gain control of the fire. However, a shift in winds during the firefight allowed HFD crews to gain the upper hand of the fire. Dry brush conditions in the area also caused the fire to quickly grow in size.

HFD crews were able to have the fire under control shortly before 3:00 pm Friday afternoon and had it contained close to 5 acres, however, HFD crews were still on scene and continued with wet down operations in the new burn area.

HFD personnel will continue to remain on scene overnight and also for the next few days to monitor for hotspots and flare-ups within the new burn area and also the previous brush fire.

No injuries nor damage to the residence were reported as a result of the fire.


HFD crews also reported that they have been responding to numerous flare-ups within the existing burn area in Kaiopae Gulch near the Kohala by the Sea/Kohala Estates subdivisions over the past few days.

One of the challenges that HFD ground crews are encountering is underground roots associated with the trees that burned in the first brush fire continue to burn. Crews say the roots can remain fairly hot for days after the fire has been extinguished, this why flare-ups do occasionally occur.

Fire crews will continue to monitor the area for hot-spots and in some areas, ground personnel is having to go more in-depth to ensure the hot spot is fully extinguished.

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