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Kohala Information Update for February 20th, 2020

Two brush fires near Kapole Gulch in North Kohala keeps Hawaii Fire Department (HFD) crews busy all-day Thursday (February 20th).

The Hawaii Fire Department (HFD) along with the Hawaii Police Department (HPD) responded to a report of two brush fires that started in the North Kohala district Thursday (February 20th).

The first incident call came in at 10:50 am Thursday morning and HFD crews from the North Kohala, South Kohala, Waimea, and Waikoloa Fire Stations along with Battalion 2, volunteers from the Kohala Ranch and Anekona Stations, and HPD officers from the North Kohala patrol responded to the scene located at the 8-mile marker on Akoni Pule Highway (Highway 270) in the area of Kapole Gulch in North Kohala.

Upon the arrival of HFD crews, numerous bystanders and also motorists passing by the area reported grey and white smoke visible from the highway in the area below the 8-mile marker on Akoni Pule Highway.

Once HFD crews arrived at the scene, HFD crews encountered a few challenges while working to extinguish the fire:

  • Due to the location of the fire and also terrain, HFD crews had to utilized 4x4 vehicles and pre-existing 4x4 trails to access and contain the fire from further spread. HFD crews also utilized both Chopper 1 and Chopper 2 to conduct water drops in areas inaccessible by ground crews.

  • Due to the limited water supply at the scene, an HFD tanker was used to shuttle water to and from a water supply source down the road from the brush fires.

HFD crews were able to have the initial fire under control just before 1:00 pm and continued with wet-down and mop-up operations. The initial fire was declared out just after 3:15 pm.

However, shortly after HFD crews were returning to quarters from the initial incident, HFD Dispatch received numerous from motorists for a report of another fire that started in the same area, however, it was across the road from the first fire reported earlier Thursday morning.

HFD crews responded to the scene and immediately worked to gain control of the fire. The second fire also encountered the same challenges as the initial fire reported earlier. HFD crews were able to have the second fire under control just after 5:45 pm and HFD units will remain on scene through the night to monitoring area for hot spots at both fire scenes.

A Wind Advisory for the North Kohala district was in effect at the time of the fire and winds of 25 to 35 mph with stronger gust were occurring at the time of both fires.

Akoni Pule Highway remained opened while HFD crews worked to extinguish the fire, HPD officers monitored traffic in the area in the event a closure was needed.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation and scorched approximately 10 acres combined. Noted by HIRSC Moderators and Administrative team members who travel/pass the area regularly where the brush fires occurred report that in the same vicinity also resides a moderate size homeless encampment.

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