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Fire Potential Prompts Road Closures in Hawai‘i Volcanoes Park

September 1, 2017, 2:14 PM HST
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Due to escalating fire danger in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, park officials have closed Hilina Pali Road from the Mauna Iki Trailhead and Mauna Loa Road at the gate past Kīpukapuaulu. Courtesy photo.

Due to escalating fire danger in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, park officials have closed Hilina Pali Road from the Mauna Iki Trailhead and Mauna Loa Road at the gate past Kīpukapuaulu.

Non-motorized day use such as hiking and bicycling will be permitted, and backcountry camping on Mauna Loa is allowed with a permit.

In addition, ‘Āinahou Ranch access will be restricted to essential personnel and authorized vehicles only.

Campfires are prohibited at Nāmakanipaio Campground and Kīpukapuaulu until further notice. The use of fuel stoves is allowed.

On Thursday afternoon, a fire burned nearly three acres of seasonally dry ‘ōhi‘a woodland and scattered koa trees, forcing park officials to close Mauna Loa Road from Highway 11 and temporarily evacuate Nāmakanipaio Campground.

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National Park Service and County of Hawai‘i fire crews responded to the blaze, located about .25 miles west of Kīpukapuaulu. As of 8 a.m. Friday, the fire was 50% contained and its spread had been halted.

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No structures or homes were threatened. Park officials report that the fire was started unintentionally, and its cause is under investigation.

“We’ve had an extremely hot and dry summer in the park, and across the island which escalates the risk of fire,” said Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park Chief Ranger John Broward. “Hot components on motor vehicles have historically contributed to the increased risk of fire and by reducing the number of vehicles, we can mitigate the potential for a catastrophic event.”

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