PHOTO GALLERY: Firefighters Execute ‘Back Burn’ to Protect Waikoloa Village
* Updated August 2, 5:07 PM
Waikoloa Village sidestepped catastrophe Sunday, at least in part due to a specific maneuver by firefighters to halt an enormous brushfire before it could find its way into the community.
Working through the night, crews from the State and County of Hawai´i, in conjunction with those stationed at the Pōhakuloa Training Area (PTA), conducted what is known as a “back burn” near Waikoloa Access Road to limit the advance of the original fire moving southwest toward the Village.
Mayor Mitch Roth lifted a mandatory evacuation order for the area at around 7 pm Sunday evening, approximately seven hours after issuing it and cuing a mass exodus. Waikoloa Village remains a safe area, though residents should remain on the lookout, as problematic wind patterns are expected to persist in the region through Tuesday night.
A release from PTA indicated that a total of five US Army aircraft from the 25th Combat Aviation Brigade on O´ahu continue to drop water on the blaze, working alongside state and county firefighting crews, as well as volunteers. Aircrews continue to work during daylight hours to douse the flames and hot spots from the sky.
“This is a team effort and the actions of all of the first responders on the front lines are courageous and commendable,” said Lt. Col. Kevin E. Cronin, Commander, Pōhakuloa Training Area.
At last count on Sunday, the fire had burned through more than 40,000 acres of land across the northern section of the Big Island.
This situation will continue to be updated as more information becomes available.