Hāmākua Brush Fire Scorches 1,400 Acres
June 5, 2021, 9:39 AM HST
* Updated June 5, 3:38 PM
A 1,400-acre brush fire in Hāmākua is now 90% contained, officials confirmed this morning.
The brush fire Friday, June 4, was first reported to the public at approximately 1 p.m. It shut down Highway 19 between mile markers 34-36 by Pa‘auilo. The road reopened just before 9 p.m.
“The crews from HFD and DOFAW worked all night to keep the fire from jumping the Pohakea Road fire break,” Hawai‘i Fire Chief Kazuo Todd told Big Island Now Saturday morning. “We are going into a very dry season this year after four years of very wet weather.”
The cause of the blaze has not yet been determined. Crews remain on scene today as they work toward full containment of the fire.
More than 50 county, state, and volunteer firefighters battled the wildfire, burning through underbrush and Eucalyptus trees on private land between Antone De Luz Road and Pohakea Road in Pa‘auilo along the Hāmākua Coast, according to DLNR.
Initially, 15 homes and 10 other structures had been threatened by the fire.
There were no mandatory evacuations, however, authorities established a shelter at Pa‘auilo Gym just in case residents needed to leave their homes.
At last count, Todd said, there was 67 personnel on scene. HFD had two choppers working to suppress the fire from the air and support ground crews. Additionally, the chief told Big Island Now crews used Big Dog tankers donated to them from the Sayre Foundation, which worked effectively in battling the flames Friday night.
“A lot of these roads are unpaved cane haul roads,” Todd explained. “The Big Dog tankers were critical as they allow us to get off-road with large amounts of water to attack the fire no matter where it is.”
HFD has also responded to a second blaze approximately 15 miles from Friday’s fire, which is burning 500 square feet in Kukuihale. Todd said the fire seems to have started after someone burning weeds lost control of the flame.
As of 9:30 a.m., the fire appears to be easy to control. Todd said the first crews on scene turned back additional units as they are able to handle the fire themselves.