Tuesday | May 03, 2016
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Brush fire chars land along Highway 190

Hawaii County firefighters quenched a brush fire Thursday afternoon at mile marker 27 on Highway 190.

The 1.5-acre blaze, which was called in about 1:30 p.m., burned a grassy area with scattered trees just a few yards makai of the highway. An engine responding from the nearby Makalei Fire Station had the fire knocked down by the time other units arrived, and the blaze was contained within a half hour, West Hawaii Battalion Chief Reuben Chun said.

Hawaii Police closed one lane of the highway and directed traffic through the smoke. Firefighters finished mop-up and the highway reopened at 4:50 p.m.

Watching firefighters pull hoses through the smoking grass and brush, Chun said the suppression was favored by light winds. In the Waikoloa area to the north, winds were gusting to 30 miles per hour, Chun estimated.

“If it had been like that here, the fire would have been gone,” Chun said.

Fire vehicles responded from Makalei, Kailua-Kona, Keauhou, Waimea and Pohakuloa Training Area. A Fire Department helicopter was also on scene, staged and prepared to hook up an 80-gallon bucket to scoop water from the reservoir at the Makalei Golf Course. A second chopper was on standby.

Firefighters sprayed water around the perimeter of the burn area, knocking down hot spots while other tankers were off refilling about 2 p.m. Chun and Fire Capt. Lyle Loyola laid plans for completely soaking the area.

“Things can change just like that,” Loyola said of the tinder-dry conditions and winds.

Such fires become more frequent heading into summer. Firefighters this week also battled a 12-acre brush fire on the southern end of Punaluu Beach and a smaller blaze at mile marker 96 on Highway 11 south of Honaunau.

“Driving on the road, you see people flick their cigarette butts out,” Chun said. “I don’t want to falsely accuse anyone, but that just adds to the issue.”

Email Bret Yager at byager@westhawaiitoday.com.


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