UPDATE: West Hawai’i Fire Still Burning, Highway 190 ReopensMarch 24, 2016, 9:14 AM HST (Updated March 24, 2016, 4:32 PM)
***Updated at 4:30 p.m. with additional information from the Hawai’i Police Department.***
The Hawai’i Police Department reports that Highway 190, previously closed from Makalei Street to the Daniel K. Inouye Highway junction, is now open in both directions as a brush fire continues to burn in the area.
Motorists are advised to drive with caution as emergency equipment, vehicles, and crews remain in the area.
***Updated at 2:55 p.m. with additional information from Hawai’i County Civil Defense.***
Officials from the Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Division of Forestry and Wildlife are hoping to reopen a portion of Highway 190 by the end of the work day on Thursday.
According to Hawai’i County Civil Defense Administrator Darryl Oliveira, DOFAW officials are making that judgement based on the status of the fire, which is still not contained. The blaze got right up to Highway 190 on Wednesday afternoon, but fire fighters kept it from jumping the highway. Current operations are currently far enough away from the road in an area comprised of grass, trees, and brush.
DOFAW conducted an aerial assessment late Thursday morning and updated the size of the fire, changing the estimate to approximately 1,800 acres.
Before opening the road, which is currently closed from Makalei Street to the Daniel K. Inouye Highway junction, fire fighters are mopping up the highway and making sure that there is no smoke issues for drivers hoping to use the road.
***Original story posted at 9:14 a.m.***
A brush fire sparked by lightning in West Hawai’i has not yet been contained, keeping a stretch of Highway 190 closed through Thursday morning.
According to the Department of Land and Natural Resoures’ Division of Forestry and Wildlife, the fire has burned an estimated 2,000-2,500 acres, as of early this morning. The number is a big increase from the previous night, when the Hawai’i County Fire Department said that the brush fire burned 1,300 acres.
HFD Assistant Fire Chief Gantry Andrade told Big Island Now Thursday morning that the fire got very close to the roadway between the 23 and 25 mile markers. In some cases, the fire missed touching the roadway by mere feet.
As the fire has gotten closer to the road, it has allowed ground crews to assist in putting out the blaze. Initially, the fire moved toward the ocean, limiting fire operations to helicopter water drops. When the wind switched directions, it blew the blaze back towards the road, easing access.
Andrade says that no structures have been affected, and no injuries have been reported.
Because the fire is on state land, DOFAW is leading the effort in battling the fire, with air and ground assistance from HFD. DOFAW took over the lead role in battling the fire on Wednesday night.
Highway 190 remains closed between Makalei Street and the Daniel K. Inouye Highway junction. The road is expected to remain closed throughout the duration of the day, with the hope that it could open earlier if fire fighting efforts are successful.