East Hawaii News

PTA Monitoring Fire Sparked During Training

April 1, 2016, 4:41 PM HST
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Pohakuloa Training Area. U.S. Department of Defense photo.

Pohakuloa Training Area. U.S. Department of Defense photo.

Pohakuloa Training Area officials are continuing to monitor a fire that was caused by a round fired during combined live fire arms training on March 24.

PTA says that the fire, which is still 100 percent contained, has burned 200 acres. It is surrounded on each side by lava and is inaccessible because of the possibility of an unexploded ordinance in the area.

Smoke levels have decreased in the last few days. PTA Fire Chief Eric Moller noted on Wednesday that smoke presence was particularly noticeable over the previous weekend.

“There are two more patches of dense brush/wood mix in the eastern portion of the fire area that haven’t burned yet, however with the return of the trades, the winds are blowing from the east, so any active fire is being blown back toward areas that have already burned,” Moller said. “The good news is that there are no impacts to threatened or endangered species, range facilities, or critical habitat at this time, and most especially that the fire is contained.”

Of concern to some residents is the potential of depleted uranium being blown off with the smoke from the fire and windy conditions, and whether it poses a health risk. PTA cites a study done by the Army that states that DU only “aerosolizes at very high temperatures, much higher than those temperatures produced by brush or range fires.”

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“We appreciate the community’s interest, and we want to assure the community, especially those of us who live and work in the immediate area, that we take everyone’s safety seriously,” said U.S. Army Garrison-Pohakuloa commander Lt. Col. Jake Peterson. “If people do have questions about
DU, we encourage them to check out our website and get the facts.”

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PTA maintains that the fire is about two miles away from the nearest DU location on the site, making it extremely unlikely that that the fire will spread there.

In the coming days. PTA expects smoke levels to keep dropping as the fire loses energy.

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