Third Puna Structure Fire Under Investigation Within 24 Hours

February 6, 2020, 9:22 AM HST (Updated February 6, 2020, 9:28 AM)
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Fire crews responded to a third structure fire in Puna in less than 24 hours where a home was destroyed.

At approximately 5:35 p.m. on Wednesday, Hawaii Fire Department received a report of a structure fire in Fern Acres at 11-2936 Pikake Street. When crews arrived on scene, they found a single-story residential wooden structure engulfed in flames with a collapsed roof.

Firefighters took exterior defensive action to keep the flames from spreading to the nearby brush.

When Engine Companies arrived, volunteers who were first on scene kept the fire from spreading to brush and were extinguishing the fire, which was under control in 10 minutes later.

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The fire was contained to the structure. Overhaul took several more hours, due to the roof collapse and the amount contents within the structure.

Three engine companies and two tankers responded, along with one volunteer brush truck. There were no injuries reported.

This is the third fire within 24 hours that crews have responded to in Puna. The last call was on the same street as the Mountain View fire that occurred on Feb. 4, at around 2:30 p.m.

It is unknown if any of these fires are connected. All incidents are under investigation.

Battalion Chief Matthias Kusch said there’s no evidence linking the fires.

“It does seem highly coincidental, but can’t make determination without supporting evidence,” Kusch said Thursday. “It’s difficult to draw any conclusions without witnesses.”

Kusch said there’s always a fair amount of fires in the area so it’s hard to say if this is a rash. However, two weeks ago, the battalion chief said there were two structure fires and multiple car fires.

What’s difficult about fires in the Puna District, Kusch added, is a lot of the homes are deep in the bush and people don’t notice them until there is a plume of smoke. The process is compounded as fire trucks can barely fit on the roads and all water has to be shuttled in.

“We struggle to keep up,” he said.

In the 25 years he’s worked with the fire department, Kusch said, personnel hasn’t grown much, but calls for service have increased almost 250%.

Anyone with information about the fires or want to report suspicious activity should call the Hawaii Police Department’s non-emergency line at 808-935-3311.

Tiffany DeMasters
Tiffany DeMasters is a reporter for Big Island Now. Tiffany worked as the cops and courts reporter for West Hawaii Today from 2017 to 2019. She also contributed stories to Ke Ola Magazine and Honolulu Civil Beat. Tiffany is an award-winning journalist, receiving recognition from the Utah-Idaho-Spokane Associated Press and Society of Professional Journalists. Tiffany grew up on the Big Island and is passionate about telling the community’s stories.
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