Pahala Wildfire Finally Declared ‘Terminated’
Exactly two weeks after it began, the massive wildfire that had threatened Pahala and wreaked havoc with agriculture in the area has been declared essentially out.
A press released issued Sunday by the Hawaii Fire Department said the fire that began June 18 is now officially “terminated.”
Acting Capt. Mike Murray of the Pahala fire station said today that firefighters continue to monitor the situation, looking for still-smoldering stumps or other possible sources of flare-ups.
“The last several days we’ve been walking the perimeter as much as we can,” he said. “When we see something pop up, we deal with it.”
Early on, the fire prompted the evacuation of Ka‘u Hospital in Pahala and several closures of Highway 11.
The total area burned had remained the same for about the past week after the smaller fire was contained and northern and southern perimeters of the bigger fire reached relatively barren lava fields with little brush or other fuel to feed any new flames.
“That kept it at status quo, so it burned out,” Murray said. Rain, higher humidity and cloud cover also aided firefigthers’ efforts, he said.
At times up to 30 personnel including county firefighters, volunteer firefighters and a crew from Hawaii Volcanoes National Park helped battle the blaze, aided by bulldozers, tanker trucks and helicopters making water drops.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation, Murray said.
No injuries were reported among firefighters during the two-week effort.