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South Kohala Information Update # 2 for November 28th, 2020

The Hawaii Fire Department (HFD) continue to battle a large brush fire that broke out Saturday afternoon (November 28th) along Highway 190 (Mamalahoa Highway) in South Kohala.

Published by: HIRSC - Hawaii Island (Holualoa and Kamuela) Team

Update # 2 as of 11:00 pm Saturday evening:

The Hawaii Fire Department (HFD) along with the Hawaii Police Department (HPD) remains at the scene of a large brush fire that broke out Saturday afternoon (November 28th) and is currently burning along Highway 190 (Mamalahoa Highway) and Waikoloa Road (Highway 191) in South Kohala.

The initial call came in at 2:01 pm Saturday afternoon and HFD crews from the Waikoloa, Waimea, and South Kohala Fire Stations along with Battalion 2, Chopper 2, Chopper 1, Volunteers from the Pu'uanahulu, Anekona, Kohala Ranch, and Kalaoa Mauka Stations, U.S. Army Fire Department from Pohakuloa Training Area (PTA), and HPD officers from the South Kohala Patrol is at the scene located on Highway 190 near the 9-mile marker in South Kohala.

Upon the arrival of emergency crews, reports came from motorists that a brush fire broke out in the Keamuku Maneuver Area, off of Highway 190 at the 9-mile marker, and burning an area, approximately the size of a football field. Dry conditions along with breezy trade winds blowing in the area cause the fire to grow in size. Smoke from the fire was visible from Waimea and the Waikoloa Village.

Once emergency crews arrived at the scene, HFD crews worked to gain control of the fire, however, due to breezy trade winds and dry conditions in the area, brush fire quickly spread further up in the Keamuku Maneuver Area. The fire later jumped Highway 190 began burning the open pasture along the makai (ocean) side of the highway.

HFD crews encountered a few challenges while battling this brush fire:

  • Access to the fronts of the fire was very limited and HFD and PTA Fire crews utilized 4x4 brush trucks and tankers to access fronts of using existing firebreaks. Chopper 1 and 2 conducted bucket drops in areas inaccessible by ground crews. Two private contracted bulldozers later arrived at the scene and began cutting fire breaks around the perimeter of the fire.

  • The fire was also burning in a heavy canopy of large eucalyptus trees making containment of the fire near the origin difficult. HFD and PTA crews will continue to monitor that area during the overnight hours and work to extinguish smolder hot-spots and flare-ups.

  • Water supply was very limited at the scene, HFD Engines and Tanker shuttled water to and from water supply sources located in Waikoloa Village and Waimea. Department of Public Works (DPW) crews brought a large water tender (5,000-gallon water tank) to assist HFD and PTA crews with an additional water supply.

HPD officers closed Waikoloa Road (Highway 191) and Highway 190 between Old Saddle Road and Daniel K. Inouye (Highway 200 or Saddle Road) due to smoky conditions on the highway and while HFD crews work in the area to gain control of the brush fire.

At 11:15 pm Saturday evening, Waikoloa Road between Paniolo Avenue and Highway 190 was reopened as well as Highway 190 between Daniel K. Inouye Highway and Waikoloa Road. Highway 190 between Old Saddle Road to Waikoloa Road would remain closed, as crews were still working in the area.

HFD crews were able to have the fire under control just after 8:00 pm Saturday evening and would remain at the scene during the overnight hours ensuring fire breaks hold up and also monitoring and extinguishing any hot-spots and flare-ups within the burn area. The fire had burned an estimated 250+ acres. HFD crews are expected to be monitoring the area over the next few days to ensure the fire is fully contained.

No injuries were reported and the cause of the fire remains under investigation.

There were reports the origin of the fire was from sparks from a welder working in the Keamuku Maneuver Area was the cause of the fire, however, HIRSC Team was not able to confirm if that was the cause of the fire from HFD and PTA officials.

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