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Kailua-Kona Brush Fire Blackens 1,000 Acres, Nearly Contained

July 22, 2013, 10:15 AM HST
* Updated July 22, 10:27 AM
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Hawaii Fire Department personnel today are doing mop-up operations of a fire that blackened approximately 1,000 acres in the northern part of Kailua-Kona over the weekend.

The fire that broke out shortly before noon Saturday at one time prompted firefighters to order about 300 residents to leave the Seascape and Lokahi apartment buildings and threatened the evacuation of the Lokahi Makai subdivision, West Hawaii Battalion Chief Stephen Loyola said this morning.

Residents of the apartment buildings returned home at about 5 p.m., he said.

No one showed up at an evacuation center opened at the West Hawaii Civic Center, Loyola said.

“I think people pretty much hunkered down” wherever it was convenient, he said.

Although flames reached within about 50 feet of Lokahi Makai – the closest the fire got to any structures – its residents were allowed to stay after firefighters conducted a backburn to remove fuel from the area.

Two bulldozers were used to cut firebreaks around the fire, which is almost completely encircled, Loyola said.

One of the bulldozers will also be used today to dig up a persistent hot spot involving roots of a large tree burning underground.

“It’s burning like an imu,” Loyola said, referring to the subterranean oven used in a luau.

Both of the department’s helicopters were used for water drops over the weekend. They were supplied by two temporary “frog ponds” set up on either side of the blaze and filled from hydrants.

Loyola said it did not appear that the water drops would be needed today.

Firefighters were working on establishing GPS readings today to get a more accurate estimate of the size of the burned area.

During Saturday’s height of the fire more than 40 county and volunteer firefighters were involved battling the blaze.

No injuries were reported.

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